Ottawa International named top airport in North America

Visitors flying into the nation's capital are landing in world-class style, says a new Airports Council International poll.

According to the survey, Ottawa boasts the top airport in North America for customer service and high quality facilities, and places second overall in the world for airports that serve between two and five million passengers.

Though it sits at the top of the North American list, the airport slipped from the number one worldwide spot it earned in 2010. This year's slot was awarded to Ecuador's Guayalquil airport.

"We were excited to be named first in the world last year," Paul Benoit, Airport Authority President and CEO said in a statement. "First in North America is even more special, because the airports included in the survey are the airports that our customers travel to most often - the ones we are most familiar with. This is a very special tribute to all of our employees and to the facility itself".

The results were tallied through the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) customer service benchmarking program, a self-described global initiative whose goal is to improve customer service at airports worldwide.

Passengers voluntarily complete the ASQ surveys prior to gate departure. They're asked to rate their airport experience based on 36 criteria — everything from the efficiency of check-in and security screening processes to overall cleanliness gets put under the microscope.

In order for an airport to qualify for ranking, a certain number of surveys must be completed each year.

The same statement notes that Ottawa International Airport has consistently ranked in the top three of their qualifying categories since joining the program in 2004.

The airport is celebrating the new ranking today by handing out Valentine's Day cards that translate into redeemable Tim Hortons coffee — a gift that, for many Canadians, may go down smoother than drugstore chocolates.

Ottawa International currently ranks as the sixth busiest airport in Canada. A new terminal to accommodate increasing traffic opened in 2003, and received a 75,000 square foot expansion five years later.

(CBC photo)