Anticipation was high for this year’s 2014-2015 Passenger Choice Awards, held last night at the Oregon Convention Center Ballroom. Following a lively Education Day where ideas about the passenger experience were exchanged, EXPO attendees were eager to find out the night’s big winners. Talk around the exciting rivalry between Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar – in no less than six categories – was abound as guests made their way from the red carpet to their tables.
Hosted by BBC’s Rajan Datar, the evening kicked off with light-hearted jokes about the airlines around a snappy audio-visual display.
Before any of the winners were announced, Datar asked for a “moment of silence” for the losers.
Norwegian became the airline to watch as the low-cost carrier nabbed Best in Region: Europe for the second year in a row, while first-time winner Korean Air broke Garuda’s two-year streak in the Best in Region: Asia and Australia category.
The applause was especially loud for the popular SriLankan CEO Rakitha Jayawardena, who was presented with an award for commitment and superior achievement for passenger achievement in the region.
And while Ethiopian stood to be the most winning airline, nominated in eight categories, it was Emirates that stole the show, sweeping seven awards and nabbing a trophy for each category it was nominated in.
And the Winners Are:
Best Overall Passenger Experience
Best in Region: Africa
> Ethiopian Airlines
Best in Region: Americas
> Virgin America
Best in Region: Asia and Australia
> Korean Airlines
Best in Region: Europe
Best in Region: Middle East
John White Publication Award
Best IFE User Interface
Best In-Flight Connectivity and Communications
Best In-Flight Video
> Virgin America
Best Cabin Ambience
Best Food and Beverage (with IFSA)
Best Ground Experience
Presented to an individual whose long-term efforts, dedication and sustained commitment have supported the organization.
> Rick Warren
Awarded to individuals whose contributions, innovations and leadership has generated a significant improvement to the overall passenger experience.
> Mary Kirby, Runway Girl Network
> Steve Harvey, Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE)
Best Achievement in Technology
> Gogo’s 2Ku Technology
Best Achievement in Passenger Experience
> El Al Israel Airlines – “Cockpit” High-Tech Innovation Hub
Read our full Q&A with Patrick Brannelly, deputy vice-president, Customer Experience, Emirates.
All photos by Vance Walstra.