Airport Customer Experience Accreditation for a Better Airport Ecosystem

Chad B. Kang by Chad B. Kang | Oct 29, 2021

By Chad Byungwook Kang, ASQ Manager, Customer Experience, ACI World and Yoona Kwon, ASQ Manager, Customer Experience, ACI World

Customer experience that meets and exceeds passenger expectations has the power to impact airports’ profit and growth. Many companies around the world have witnessed that having a stronger focus on customer experience can result in higher economic gain, sustainability, as well as customer satisfaction levels. In fact, Airports Council International (ACI) World research shows that an increase of 1% in global passenger satisfaction (as defined in the ASQ Survey) generates, on average, a 1.5% growth of non-aeronautical revenue.

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Research report: Does passenger satisfaction increase airport non-aeronautical revenue?
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Human expectations are constantly subject to change, making customer experience excellence no easy feat. To guide our members in this regard, ACI has built the Airport Customer Experience Management Model to provide a structured approach and facilitate their adhesion. From that approach came the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation program, a quality control framework for customer experience management, designed to progressively transform an airport in becoming customer centric.

Is your airport customer centric?

As airports are interlinked with various organizations and companies which have different business objectives and goals, the Airport Customer Experience Management Model helps all stakeholders to have a common focal point: the customer. This means that all decisions related to delivering products, services, and experiences are made primarily to create customer satisfaction and loyalty.

ACI developed the following model which includes eight (8) key domains: Customer Understanding, Strategy, Measurement, Operational Improvement, Governance, Airport Culture, Service Design Innovation, and Airport Community Collaboration.

Airport Customer Experience Accreditation Brochure
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There are 5 levels of accreditation and airports will be accredited based on their practices in each domain. Together, they play a fundamental role in improving airport customer experience management, with each domain closely connected to one another.

How does the Airports Customer Experience Accreditation program work?

The objective of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation program is not to complete the latest level. Each accreditation level is unique and meaningful, and can evolve with the pace of employees and airport stakeholders. For this reason, airports can either apply for a renewal at the same level or for an upgrade to the next level. ACI provides detailed guidelines and an assessment for each domain.

Benefits of the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation program

The primary objective of this accreditation program is to guide the airport ecosystem in becoming customer centric and ultimately improving the customer experience. The benefits can be summarized as follows:

  • Direct impact on customer satisfaction: The accreditation program helps airports to reach new heights in terms of customer satisfaction, providing a direct impact on ASQ results.
  • Communication and recognition tool: The accreditation program is not only designed to enhance the airport’s customer experience management and its communication with employees/stakeholders, but the logo can be proudly posted to promote the airport’s efforts and achievements in improving customer experience.
  • Airport community engagement: The accreditation program constitutes an opportunity to engage employees/stakeholders in improving the customer experience at the airport.
  • Long-term plans: Airports can identify new practices in their short- and long-term plans to reach the next level of accreditation if desired.
  • 360-degree view of airport customer experience management: Accreditation allows those in charge of customer experience to see all customer experience-related activities in their airports comprehensively and helps them to enhance their competency and knowledge of various customer experience management practices.

Recognizing the world’s leading airports in customer experience

Since its launch in 2019, the accreditation program has supported the global airport community in delivering superior customer experience, showcasing airport achievements, and sharing the community’s knowledge and best practices. In fact, there are total 46 airports in 23 countries accredited in the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation program. More specifically, 16 airports are accredited for Level 1 and 27 airports for Level 2, respectively. These airports are already reaping the benefits, including leveraging their achievement as a powerful marketing tool to showcase their commitment to improving the customer experience.

ACI also recognizes excellence in customer experience through its annual ASQ awards. This year’s awards were held at the ACI Customer Experience Global Summit, which took place from 8–9 September 2021 in Montreal, Canada. During the event, ACI celebrated the accredited airports that were awarded the ACI Airport Customer Experience Accreditation.

Incheon International Airport is the first airport to receive Level-4 accreditation

Mr. Jongho (Tony) Cho, Director of Customer Experience Innovation, Incheon International Airport said at the summit:

“To be the first airport worldwide to receive Level 4 in the ACI Airport Customer Experience Accreditation Program is a great honor for Incheon International Airport. Customers are at the center of our daily operation, and we have been striving to provide world-class service. By participating in this program, we were able to draw various stakeholders closer together to look at customer experience from the same place. Following our slogan ‘Expect Exceptional,’ Incheon plans to provide a unique experience, proactively designing time at the airport to be intertwined with culture and art, and where hassle can be forgotten through the latest technologies.”

ACI will continuously highlight this achievement through an official award ceremony at the annual Customer Experience Global Summit and next year’s event will be held in Kraków, Poland from 13–15 September 2022. This event will bring the industry together again for the face-to-face discussion of the importance of customer experience, and will also include the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation ceremony, supported by ACI World’s partner Amadeus.


Yoona Kwon

ASQ Manager, Customer Experience, ACI World

Yoona Kwon has over 13 years of experience in the aviation industry, starting her career with Incheon International Airport Corporation. She assists in upgrading the Airport Customer Experience Accreditation and any new products or services related to customer experience. She is also responsible for development of Global training program such as ACEP.

Chad B. Kang

Chad B. Kang

ASQ Manager, Customer Experience, ACI World
Chad Byungwook Kang has more than 10 years of experience in the aviation industry, starting his career with Incheon International Airport Corporation. At ACI World, his main responsibility is to assist operation and management of any produces or services related to customer experience including Airport Customer Experience Accreditation and explore new business opportunities by introducing our advisory consulting services.
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