After 18 hours of research evaluating 224 products, we picked Singapore Airlines as our top choice.
For many of us, flying is a huge part of life—both personally and professionally. While cost is key, it is imperative to look beyond the price to other factors when searching for the best airline to travel with, as that may help make or break your travel experience.
So, Where To Begin?
In order to make your search for the perfect airline slightly less daunting, we’ve compiled a list of the most luxurious airlines in the world (with a few budget friendly options as well).
How To Make The Most Of Your Travel Miles:
And, if you’re a frequent flyer looking to rack up miles for as much free travel as possible, we’d recommend checking out one of our best travel rewards credit cards.
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Now flying select international destinations including Aruba, Belize, Costa Rica, and Cuba
Of course, our list of the world’s best airlines would not be complete without our favorite little budget U.S.-based airline, Southwest. Far from traveling only to Southwest regions of North America, Southwest has recently expanded to a number of international and overseas destinations including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Belize, and, starting the summer of 2017, Hawaii.
Why this airline falls so far behind a number of airlines on our list is due to the lack of diversity in Southwest’s flight network. Aside from traveling to several Central and South American destinations, Southwest just doesn’t really have an international presence (yet, at least—we’re hopeful Southwest’s growth spurt does not slow down anytime soon).
Also, there’s no first class. So, if you’re looking for the finer things in life while traveling domestically, you should move along. However, we believe that the excellent service and experience offered to all passangers more than makes up for the fact that there's not a designated "first class" cabin.
Cabin Comfort: For Southwest, this section is easy. Southwest only offers one type of seat, which is essentially economy on steroids. So, if you’re accustomed to free champagne, lots of leg room, and fine plated dining, you’re going to be disappointed. But the upside to that is that all seats are relatively spacious, especially if you’re able to snag a seat in the bulkhead or an exit row.
That brings us to our next point, fare options. If you are interested in a seat with a tad extra leg room, or something toward the very front of the plane (like the first or second row), you’ll probably want to opt for the Business Select fare. Not only will you get to be one of the first 15 people to board, but the fare comes with the flexibility to cancel or rebook your flight at any time for a full refund and no change or cancellation fees.
If you don’t care about being one of the first 15 to board, your options are the Anytime or Wanna Get Away fares. Really the only difference between the two is that Wanna Get Away fares will cost you a bit more to change or chancel (sometimes even several hundred dollars), while Wanna Get Away fares are completely flexible (like Business Select)—allowing you to cancel or change your flight anytime (get it?) for a full refund and with no change/cancellation fee.
That being said, we should probably also mention that Southwest is open seating. What does that mean for you? Unless you’re dying to board with Group C (which, as the flight attendants will tell you, stands for "center" and "cramped"), and you’re not an A-list or A-list Preferred member (more on Southwest’s status tiers and frequent flyer program later), you’ll want to either buy a Business Select fare, pay for early bird check-in, or make sure to check-in right at 24-hours before take -off (even 24-hours before check-in you may be stuck with Group B or Group C, depending on the number of Business Class, A-list, and early bird check-ins on your flight).
Let us unpack that a bit. Southwest’s rewards program does not feature many tiers, but if you earn your way to A-list or A-list Preferred you will have the benefit boarding with Group A—regardless of when you check-in. Like we mentioned previously, purchasing a Business Select ticket will also guarantee you a spot as one of the first 15 board. The other option for purchase is early bird check-in, which you can buy for $15, each way at, at the time of purchase. If you wait until closer to the flight, the price will go up and can cost you between $30 and $50 at the airport. So, if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to guarantee yourself a window or aisle close to the front of the plane, early bird is probably your best bet.
Since Southwest does not yet fly to many international destinations, there is no meal service. Premium snacks are served on longer flights, but otherwise you can expect snack mix or pretzels (like most airlines in recent years, Southwest recently went peanut-free...and we're totally okay with that). Additionally, since there’s no first class cabin on Southwest, don’t expect free drinks. In fact, Southwest actually just raised drink prices from $5 for all beer, wine, and mixed drinks, to $6 for beer and wine and $7 for wine and mixed drinks (how dare they!).
But, once you hit the A-list you’ll start receiving free drink tickets in mail several times a year (4 at a time), so that somewhat makes up for the fact that you won’t be getting the unlimited refills of champs you might have become accustom to on other airlines. Also, be aware that Southwest flight attendants are notorious for giving out free drinks. So, while it’s not guaranteed, you have a pretty good chance of snagging some complimentary cocktails on just about any flight.
Entertainment: Southwest offers live TV on all flights, but no seatback technology—so you have to watch it on your own device (smart phone, iPad, laptop, etc.). Messaging can be purchased for $2 and Wifi can be purchased for $8, but don’t expect any extras like a charging port or a complimentary headset.
Baggage & Change Fees: None, andddd none. Come on, unless you’ve been living under a rock you know Southwest is all about TransFAREency—meaning no bag fees, no change fees, and no other hidden fees. That being said, all passengers are allowed one personal item and one carry-on onboard, plus two checked bags that do not exceed 50 pounds or 62 inches—for FREE! Additional baggage will cost $75 per item.
Southwest is being totally truthful when it says no hidden fees, but, when booking award travel you will be assessed a TSA fee of $5 each way for all domestic flights and $50 each way for international. When it comes to change fees, Southwest will not charge any fees to change your flight, regardless of the fare booked, but you will be required to pay the difference between the fare you purchased and the new fare, if applicable (which could even result in a credit for future travel, depending on the price difference). Still incredibly reasonable, but something to be aware of.
Customer Service: Southwest has really got it going on when it comes to customer service as well. First of all, the Southwest website features a very extensive customer service section which provides quick links to information on baggage, purchases, and refunds, along with contact information for reaching out to Southwest by phone, Twitter, email, or snail mail. But not only that, the fact that Southwest does not charge change fees makes it super easy for phone reps and gate agents to get you rebooked as quickly and painlessly as possible, and will also go above and beyond to make sure you are satisfied with the level of customer service support provided.
Frequent Flyer Program: For a budget airline, Southwest sure isn’t messing around when it comes to rewarding its frequent flyers. The name of the program is Rapid Rewards, and boy does it live up to its title. The Rapid Rewards program is designed to make earning reward flights quick and easy, offering unlimited reward seating, no blackout dates, and points that don’t expire (as long as you have point earning activity at least once every 24 months).
Earn points on flights, cars, partner purchases, and anytime you use your Southwest credit card as well. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, you can use your points to redeem gift cards, merchandise, international flights on 50+ carriers, cruises, hotel stays, rental cars, and more. We even ranked the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa one of the top airline credit cards overall!
Like we said initially, the Rapid Rewards program is designed to make earning and redeeming rewards easy. That being said, Southwest keeps it simple with just three different tiers of status. A-list, A-list Preferred, and Companion Pass. Visit the Southwest website for more information on all benefits available to each tier, but just to name a few—A-list and A-list Preferred members will receive priority boarding, priority check-in and security, free same-day standby, 25% to 100% earning bonus, free inflight Wifi (A-list Preferred only) and a dedicated member phone line.
Companion Pass holders will also receive all the benefits listed above, along with the ability to designate one lucky person to fly for free on every flight the Companion Pass holder purchases or books using points for the remainder of the year after Companion Pass status is reached and the next full calendar year. While there are some parameters around this, it is still one of the most lucrative benefits offered by any airline.
Air Fare: Cheap! Southwest is not known as a low cost or budget carrier for nothing. While flights are never very expensive on Southwest (remember though, you get what you pay for—Southwest does not offer many international flights or first class options), right now you can purchase a flight from Chicago to Costa Rica for between $300 and $500. At that price, you’ll be able to afford to check out a number of Southwest’s international destinations just this year alone!
Checked and carry-on luggage included with every fare
Hundreds of entertainment options and USB charging port at every seat
Lufthansa is a German carrier that is known for having the second longest direct flight in the world (Qantas flight from Dallas to Sydney—with a flight time of an incredible 16 hours and 55 minutes—being the longest), which flies from Frankfurt-Main International to Buenos Aires in a whopping 13 hours and 55 minutes. But beyond that, Lufthansa is also known for being one of the world’s leading airlines in terms of size and scope of network. Oh, and Lufthansa was the official airline of the World Cup Champion German soccer team in 2014, which is pretty sweet too!
Economy passengers report that the food is just average. Additionally, the cost to cancel or change a Lufthansa flight is a bit outrageous, which is partly why this airline landed to far back on our list.
Cabin Comfort: Lufthansa has recently done a major overhaul of its inflight services, including the addition of a Premium Economy section and lie-flat beds in Business Class. While you unfortunately will not have the option of a lie-flat bed in Economy or Premium Cconomy, Lufthansa offers perks to all classes of passengers that make any flight feel pretty dang luxurious.
All seats, even those in Economy, feature a 40-cm cushion width, as well as individually adjustable headrests. Premium Economy kicks it up a knot with 50% more space than the seating in Economy, a practical travel kit with everything you need to stay well-rested and refreshed, more free baggage, and more menu options.
Of course, Business Class will offer even more perks, including: lounge access, priority boarding, increased free baggage allowance, and better inflight meals. Oh yeah, and there’s also that tiny little detail of the 2-meter long, fully flat bed for long-haul flights. In addition to all of the above, First Class offers more privacy, more comfort, fine wine, Michelin-star-standard delicacies, and even a personal assistant to meet you the moment you arrive at the airport.
In addition to the comfy seats and excellent service, Lufthansa’s food is also something passengers rave about. But, with all-star chefs—including David Bouley and Jean-Georges Vongerischen—serving up the grub, can you really be surprised? Additionally, while Lufthansa may have room for improvement on what it feeds Cconomy passengers it sure takes care of First and Business Class, as one of the largest caviar purchasers in Europe—purchasing 10 tons annually.
The best part? On international flights, all passengers, even those in Economy, get free drinks!
Entertainment: Another great perk Lufthansa is known for is the free Wifi. Lufthansa was actually the first airline to offer inflight internet back in 2004. Can you say, game changer? Thanks Lufthansa! Passengers say the Wifi doesn’t work great, but it’s available. And what more can you really ask for at 30,000 feet?
In addition to Wifi, all seats feature a touch screen monitor with hundreds of inflight options for movies, TV, and radio. Additionally, all seats are equipped with a USB port for charging and even a place to hang your headphones. Another cool entertainment feature is that between movies the monitor will display an animated version of what the pilots are seeing outside the cockpit window at that very moment...talk about earning your wings.
Baggage & Change Fees: Baggage is included in all fares, but the size, weight, and quantity will depend on the class of travel. Baggage allowances are broken out as follows:
Economy: 1 piece of carry-on luggage up to 8 kg and 1 checked bag up to 23 kg
Economy Premium: 1 piece of carry-on luggage up to 8 kg and 2 checked bags up to 23 kg each
Business Class: 2 pieces of carry-on luggage up to 8 kg each and 2 checked bags up to 32 kg each
First Class: 2 pieces of carry-on luggage up to 8 kg each and 3 checked bags up to 32 kg each.
Additional baggage can be purchase for anywhere between $16 and $60 USD.
In regard to change fees, while Lufthansa does not openly outline their change and cancellation fees on their website (never a good sign), passengers report being charged anywhere from $250 to $1,000 USD to change or cancel a flight—some of the highest fees on our list (and of any European airline). Ouch.
Customer Service: Lufthansa is one of the largest airlines in Europe, both in terms of passengers carried and fleet size, and—when combined with subsidiaries—services a total of 656 aircrafts, with 267 owned by Lufthansa alone. Even with such a large fleet, Lufthansa has still managed to snag a spot in the top 20 list for on time arrivals in 2018, coming in 12th with an on time arrival percentage of 76.9%. Not as high as some of the airlines on our list, but it definitely could be doing worse.
On top of that, Lufthansa has an extensive Customer Service department, offering a number of online customer service options as well as 24-hour phone representatives available to assist with each and every customer service need.
Frequent Flyer Program: Lufthansa’s frequent flyer program, known as Miles & More, is one of the largest frequent flyer programs on the continent of Europe with more than 25 million members. Lufthansa is also a founding member of the Star Alliance, which means you can earn miles as you travel and redeem on any one of the Star Alliance partners (though the redemption value will be better on some airlines than others).
While you may be charged a hefty fuel surcharge when redeeming miles, the Mile’s and More program has incredibly flexible routing rules and will allow you to get a 3-cent-per-mile value on your rewards. The Lufthansa credit card will also help you earn miles faster.
Additional program perks include no fee cancellations before award is ticketed (typically 24 hours), five-day itinerary holds on select airlines, and Fly Smart fares bookable two weeks before departure requiring 50 percent fewer miles. While you have potential to earn miles quickly with Lufthansa’s frequent flyer program, especially with the 3-cent-per-mile value, the hefty fuel charge and lack of benefits make this one of the more basic frequent flyer programs on our list.
Air Fare: Online booking on Lufthansa’s website was a bit confusing (which seems to be a common theme with Lufthansa's website), but we were able to find that signature flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aries on Skyscanner for just over $1,000.
While that doesn't sound too bad, keep in mind that this was the cheapest that flight got in a full calendar year and can cost up to $5,000 or even $10,000, for Economy or Economy Premium, depending on your travel dates—if you’re looking for a seat in Business or First Class you can expect to pay 5x to 10x what you would for a seat in Economy or Economy Premium…which can really add up.
Upper class cabin features lie-flat beds and an inflight bar
Expect a quirky, fun, “good-vibes-only” experience with Virgin Atlantic
300 hours of inflight entertainment
Virgin Atlantic is probably best known for its iconic upper class (and pink lighting, of course), which features fully flat beds and an inflight bar. However, Virgin is keeping its edge with transatlantic fliers in all classes by continuing to make upgrades to amenities such as entertainment and online booking. Passengers also rave about the Premium Economy section, with its luxurious touches like hot towels and welcome drinks.
Virgin Atlantic does not provide much detail on their refund or change policy until you’ve actually booked your ticket.
Cabin Comfort: When it comes to Virgin Atlantic, Basic Economy comes in a few flavors—Light, Classic, and Delight. Economy Light includes meals, drink, snacks, hand luggage (up to 10 kg), and free seat selection at check-in. Economy Classic includes all of the above, plus 1 checked bag (up to 23 kg), free seat selection at any time, and upgrade eligibility with miles. Economy Delight includes a few additional perks such as extra leg room, premium check-in, and priority boarding.
Premium Economy offers even more to love with extra inches of space (seats are 21 inches wide with a footrest, headrest, and 38-inch seat pitch), a glass of bubbly as you board, and a tasty meal served on fine china. To back it up for a second, you can also expect luxury before you even get onboard with Premium Economy fares. Dedicated check-in and bag drop will fast track your airport experience, plus priority check-in and boarding will guarantee smooth takeoff and landing. Premium passengers can also expect premium amenity kits in a smart wallet, containing all essentials needed for a great flight.
Upper Class (sounds regal, right?) offers even more, including a chauffeur driven car service to take you to and from the airport (complimentary, of course), access to luxurious airport clubhouses and lounges, and the finest food and drink throughout your journey. Upper Class cabins also over roomy leather seats that double as the longest flat beds in any business class, allowing you stretch out and arrive refreshed and ready for anything. On overnight flights, Virgin Atlantic also provides Upper Class passangers with sleep suits, an amenity kit, and, upon arrival to Heathrow, fast track through immigration and even access to an arrivals lounge for a quick shower and a bite to eat before embarking on the next adventure.
Entertainment: Virgin Atlantic offers over 300 hours of inflight entertainment, in seat power for your devices, and onboard Wifi starting at £4.99. The entertainment options include the latest blockbuster movies, popular TV shows, games, music, and more. Additionally, the Vera inflight magazine puts tons of information at your fingertips the moment you settle into your seat.
Baggage & Change Fees: Baggage allowance is determined by the class of fare purchased, but with Virgin Atlantic the rules are pretty simple. If you’re flying Economy or Premium you are allowed one piece of hand luggage which cannot exceed 10 kg (22 pounds). And if you’re flying upper class you are allowed two pieces of hand luggage with cannot exceed 16 kg (35 pounds) combined.
In terms of checked baggage, the only fare that does not include any checked bags is Economy Light (clearly you’re getting what you pay for here). Economy Classic and Economy Delight tickets include one checked bag up to 23 kg (50 pounds), Economy Premium includes two checked bags up to 23 kg (50 pounds) a piece, and Upper Class includes three checked bags up to 32 kg (70 pounds) a piece.
Extra checked bags may be purchased for $60 to $200, depending on the class of fare purchased and how many bags total you wish to check.
When it comes to change fees, Virgin Atlantic is another airline that does not post change fees on their website (which usually isn’t a good sign). However, passengers report paying anywhere from $75 to $100 (and even $0 for some fares), depending on the class of fare and type of ticket booked. Refunds are issued the same way, but in order to determine whether or not you are eligible for a full refund you would need to contact Virgin Atlantic directly.
Customer Service: Virgin Atlantic’s signature style is pulling in a wider audience now that its partnership with Delta gives it access to hundreds of additional destinations in the U.S.
Additionally, both onboard and off-board, the crew members at Virgin Atlantic are some of the best in the business when it comes to providing excellent customer service. Expect an upbeat crew that is happy, pleasant, and (best of all, yet seldom found in airlines these days, sadly) nice to passengers. Virgin is known for creating an incredibly positive corporate culture, which luckily trickles down to passengers and does not go unnoticed.
While Virgin Atlantic did not quite make the top 20 list of airlines by on time arrival percentage, it did manage to have one of the highest on time percentages for one of the top 20 busiest routes—Heathrow to JFK—with an on time percentage of 75.1%. We'll take that!
Frequent Flyer Program: As a Flying Club member you will earn miles on every flight you take with Virgin Atlantic, which can then be put towards your next flight and help you to reach the next tier of points—unlocking more benefits as you go.
Like most airlines, the benefits you receive are dependent on your tier. Virgin Atlantic breaks it down to Red, Silver, and Gold, and offers a variety of benefits at each level including: bonus miles, free seat selection, complimentary exit row, extra baggage, early check-in, and access to airport lounges and clubhouses.
For a full list of what benefits are offered at each tier, and how to become a member, visit the Flying Club section of Virgin Atlantic’s website.
Air Fare: Pretty reasonable, actually! For example, Virgin Atlantic’s signature flight from Heathrow to JFK will cost you between £450 and £600 for Economy, just under £800 for Premium, and just over £3,000 for Upper Class. Not as cheap as you would think when you convert to U.S. dollars, but not entirely unreasonable compared to some of the other premium and first class options on our list.
Enjoy the latest entertainment on your personal touchscreen TV—available to all classes of travelers
Known as the gateway to Asia
Cathay offers the most nonstop service to the Far East, with five daily flights from the New York area alone. In addition to frequency, it offers comfort, luxurious cuisine, and award-winning First and Business Class cabins with lie-flat seats.
Cabin Comfort: Cathay Pacific offers several classes of seating, including Economy, Premium Economy, Business, and First Class. Experience greater comfort than ever before in Economy, with ergonomically designed seats and an adjustable headrest that provides maximum support. Take advantage of the ample legroom and a selection of other onboard amenities including inflight magazines and digital entertainment.
Like a few other airlines on our list Cathay Pacific has recently given their Premium Economy cabin a bit of a facelift, so it now feels more like business than coach. In addition to priority boarding, you can expect a glass of champagne and hot towel upon boarding. Premium Economy also boasts more spacious seats with an 8-inch recline, increased legroom, calf rest, and leather-padded footrest. Also, expect additional baggage allowance, a larger meal table, added storage, and an environmentally friendly amenity kit.
Business Class will offer perks that begin even before the flight itself, with priority check-in and boarding plus Business Class airport lounge access. Onboard, the award-winning Business Class seats will easily adapt to your preferences inflight with two pre-set settings for sitting or sleeping.
Seats in Business Class are designed around productivity with privacy partitions, expansive tables, power outlets, and adjustable lighting. The Business Class menu incorporates locally sourced ingredients to create upgraded dining options, and to compliment your meal you will also be offered award-wining wines and fine chocolates. Access to pillows, a duvet, and a luxury amenity kit are just the icing on top of the cake.
First Class takes things to a whole new level with all of the same wonderful amenities of Economy and Business Class, but in the privacy of your own spacious suite. Additionally, you will experience First Class lounge access, gourmet first class food and wine menus, a la cart dining, and a luxury Aesop amenity kit including a cozy sleep suit.
Outside of the upgraded menus for business and first class, Cathay Pacific is serving up fresh flavors to all classes, as its culinary team crafts light and healthy meals with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables—which is hard to find with airlines these days. You can also expect an award-winning selection of wines and beverages on-hand to accompany every meal.
Entertainment: Enjoy the latest films, TV, and music on your personal 9-inch (Economy) to 17-inch (First Class) high-definition flat screen TV. Cathay’s state-of the-art-inflight entertainment features carefully curated monthly media highlights that will provide a wide range of entertainment, whether your flight is long or short. Additionally, you will receive a pair of BOSE noise-cancelling headphones to help you relax and rest as needed.
Baggage & Change Fees: Baggage allowances are determined by class of ticket purchased and are broken down as follows:
Economy: 1 carry-on that does not exceed 7 kg; 2 checked bags that do not exceed 30 kg total
Premium Economy: 1 carry-on that does not exceed 7 kg; 2 checked bags that do not exceed 35 kg total
Business Class: 1 carry-on that does not exceed 10 kg; 2 checked bags that do not exceed 40 kg total
First Class: 1 carry-on that does not exceed 33 kg; 3 checked bags that do not exceed 50 kg total
Keep in mind that baggage allowance requirements may vary by destination, so always check the Cathy Pacific website for specifics before flying. Additionally, extra baggage can be purchased for anywhere between $30 to $60, depending on your destination.
In regard to change fees, Cathay Pacific is very clear about their change fees—which makes it easy to know what you’re getting yourself into from the time of purchase. Rebooking (changing time or day of travel) will cost between $50 and $150, depending on the fare purchased. Rerouting (changing departure or destination city) will cost a flat $150, regardless of the fare purchased. Refunds will be issued for cancelled flights, less $150 refund fee, and name changes may result in a rebooking fee as well (depending on the level of correction needed).
Customer Service: Regardless of what class you’re in you can expect impeccable service both onboard and on the ground. From attentive flight attendants, to helpful ground staff willing to go the extra mile, Cathay’s service is straight from the heart.
Cathay’s website features a chatbot dedicated to addressing all of your customer service needs in real time, but, if you prefer, you can also contact one of Cathay’s customer service reps by phone during business hours (or 24-hours a day for Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles members).
Cathay Pacific has not quite earned its spot in the punctuality report’s top airlines for on time arrivals overall, but with an on-time arrival percentage in the low 70s Cathay could definitely be doing worse.
Frequent Flyer Program: Earn Asia Miles or Miles with the Oneworld Alliance every time you fly Cathay Pacific. Members of the Oneworld Alliance can earn and redeem miles on partner airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Qatar Airways, and Qantas—just to name a few. Also, join the Marco Polo club to earn additional privileges and benefits to enhance your travel experience even further.
Both the Marco Polo Club and Oneworld feature three corresponding levels of membership: Ruby/Silver; Sapphire/Gold; and Emerald/Diamond. While benefits vary my level, some of the benefits include: priority standby, check-in, and boarding; lounge access, for yourself and guests; extra baggage allowance; and fast track at security lanes.
Oneworld also offers Oneworld and Global Explorer fares which will provide you access to almost 1,000 destinations in more than 150 countries across the Oneworld network—simply choose between a straightforward continent-based fare, or a more versatile distance-based fare, and prepare for your round-the-world journey!
Air Fare: Cathay Pacific is especially known for its signature 16-hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong, which will cost you anywhere from $1,600 to $6,500 for an economy roundtrip ticket, depending on the dates of travel. Premium Economy will cost between $2,300 and $7,4000 for a round trip; Business will cost between $8,000 and $17,000; and First Class will run you $32,000+ for a round trip—which is pretty insane. Flights on Cathay Pacific are less expensive the further out you book (to a certain extent), so make sure to take advantage of those discounts when at all possible.
Delta offers some of the most reasonable first class fares
Pay only slightly more for Delta comfort and get 25% more legroom, double the incline, and complimentary premium snacks and alcoholic beverages
Earn miles for free reward travel with the Delta SkyMiles rewards program
While it’s tough to find a North American-based carrier that can truly compare to its overseas counterparts, Delta definitely outshines most of its domestic competitors in a number of ways. Not only does Delta serve an expansive flight network, but it does so with dedication to customer service and the comfort of all passengers.
Expect hefty change fees and only mediocre customer service. But, for a U.S.-based mainline carrier, Delta is about as good as it gets.
Cabin Comfort: Delta offers a number of seat options—probably the most of any airline on our list, actually—including: Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Delta Comfort, Delta Premium Select, and Delta One.
Main Cabin is Delta’s basic fare, and what the majority of Delta passengers select. With Main Cabin-seating you can expect standard legroom with a 4-inch recline; guaranteed overhead bin space; seat selection prior to check-in; complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages on domestic flights, with beer, wine, and cocktails served complimentary on international flights; sleep kits and meals on long-haul international flights; 9-inch seatback entertainment screen with complimentary Delta studio access; inflight power; Wifi for purchase; and complimentary headsets on long-haul flights.
Basic Economy allows you to enjoy the Main Cabin experience, but at a value rate with just a few less amenities. For example, overhead bin space may be limited, so economy passengers are not guaranteed overhead bin space and may be required to gate check their carry-on prior to boarding (free of charge, or course).
Checked baggage is generally not included in either Main Cabin or Economy fares, and Economy seats cannot be selected from the Main Cabin until after check-in (24 hours prior to the flight). Additionally, ticket changes and upgrades are not allowed with Economy tickets.
Delta Comfort passengers will receive everything Main Cabin fares include, with the addition of amenity kits on long-haul flights, premium snacks, complimentary alcoholic beverages, up to 4 inches of more legroom, 50% more recline than Main Cabin seats, and complimentary SkyPriority boarding.
First Class offers even more space, with 50% more recline than a Main Cabin seat and up to 8 inches of more legroom. A pillow and blanket will be provided at the time of boarding and fine dining options will be available based on flight distance. First Class passengers will have their own dedicated inflight attendant offering personal service and will also receive premium boarding, SkyPriority check-in and expedited baggage handling and security.
Delta Premium Select and Delta One fares are only available for select long-haul international flights, and offer the following additional amenities above and beyond what passengers would receive in first class.
Delta Premium Select: Up to 75% more recline; TUMI amenity kit; and fine dining plated on premium flatware.
Delta One: 180-degree flat-bed seat; 76-82-inch bed; TUMI premium amenity kit; chef-curated meals and plated fine dining; complimentary top shelf liquor and sommelier select wine; concierge access/bag delivery at select check-in locations; and complimentary access to airport Delta Sky Club lounges.
Delta offers reinvented menus with regional touches and perfect pairing on all long-haul flights. Delta also offers an extensive selection of complimentary beers, wines, and cocktails to all passengers in Delta Comfort, First Class, Delta Premium Select, and Delta One.
Entertainment: Wifi is available for purchase on many flights, and all passengers receive complimentary access to inflight messaging as well as hours of movies, TV shows, music, and more on Delta Studio. Each seat features seat-back entertainment ranging from a 9-inch screen (Economy, Main Cabin, Delta Comfort), to 11-inch (First Class and Delta Premium Select), to 15.4-inch (Delta One). Complimentary headsets are also available on long-haul flights for all passengers, with noise cancelling headphones provided to Delta One passengers on all flights.
Baggage & Change Fees: Regardless of flight class, all passengers are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item at no charge (with the exception of Economy passengers who will be required to gate check their carry-on if there is no overhead bin space remaining). Carry-on luggage should not exceed a combined length of 114 cm and may not exceed size limit templates provided at ticket counters and gates. Carry-on weight restrictions may apply to certain destinations.
For checked bags, the baggage fee will depend on destination, but most Main Cabin, Delta Comfort, and First Class baggage fees will be $25 (each way) for your first bag under 50 pound and $35 (each way) for your second. Basic Economy fares will be charged $60 for their first bag and $100 for their second.
Delta Premium Select customers will be allowed two free check bags under 50 pounds each. Most international fares will include one to two free bags up to 50 pounds each for Economy, Main Cabin, and Delta Comfort passengers. First Class, Delta Premium Select, and Delta One passengers will also get two free bags up to 70 pounds each.
Again, baggage allowance and fees may vary by destination, so you should always check the Baggage and Travel Fees section of Delta’s website before flying.
For change and cancellation fees, Delta makes it easy and offers a number of flat fee travel change options for most fares. Most fares for domestic travel are eligible for same-day flight changes, absent Basic Economy and international fares. If space is available in the fare class you originally purchased, you can select the Same Day Change option at check-in and pay a change fee of $75 to guarantee your seat. If space is not available, or you do not wish to pay the $75 fee, you can select standby for free.
Standard flight changes that are not same day/same destination will cost the difference between the original ticket cost and new fare (which, in some instances, may result in a refund) plus the $200 to $500 change fee each way. Ouch, that’s pretty pricey. If you’re looking to change or cancel a flight booked with award travel you will pay a redeposit fee of $150 in order to keep your award mileage.
Customer Service: While the service onboard is great, and you have numerous options to reach out to Delta if questions or issues arise (email, call, Tweet—seriously, what will they think of next?), Delta’s overall customer service experience is just mediocre at best. However, as we’ve mentioned numerous times before, Delta far outshines its domestic competitors (with a few exceptions), so that mediocre customer service is about as good as it gets in the U.S.
Frequent Flyer Program: Delta’s frequent flyer program, SkyMiles, allows you to earn miles every trip (and purchases, if you have a Delta credit card) that can be put towards travel or for rewards like upgrades, premium drinks, or Delta Private Jets. It’s free to join, miles never expire, and you can use your miles to travel to over 1,000+ destinations. Delta even allows you to earn rewards with travel partners such as 20+ airline partners, hotels, rental cars, ridesharing, shopping, dining, and more. For more on the best Delta credit cards, we've ranked the top options for you there as well.
Redeeming miles is just as easy as earning with Delta’s online booking portal. Additionally, as a SkyMiles member, every time you fly Delta you get closer to reaching Medallion Status, which will deliver added services, exclusivity, and rewards. Tiers range from Silver, to Gold, to Platinum, to Diamond, and, as with most frequent flyer programs, benefits vary by tier.
For a complete list of benefits at each tier, check out Delta’s website. But, to give you an idea, benefits include: bonus miles, upgrades, gift cards, priority boarding, waived baggage fees, waived Same-Day Confirmed fees, waived award redeposit fees, priority check-in, CLEAR membership, and lounge access.
Air Fare: Compared to most airlines on our lines, Delta offers some of the lowest fare options—even on international flights. This is likely because you’re not paying for the same level of service and amenities you can expect on many of the other airlines on our list, but if you’re looking for a cheap flight abroad Delta might be your best bet.
For example, Delta is currently offering direct, round trip flights to a number of European destinations for between $500 and $1,000. While that’s for Main Cabin only, you can likely snag something in Delta comfort for $200 to $400 more per fare. If you’re looking for something first class, premium select or Delta one, you can expect to pay about 10x that base, Main Cabin fare.
Voted World’s Best Business Class three years in a row
Free amenity kits for all passengers, from Economy to First Class
4,000 entertainment options plus USB charging in every seat
The Doha airport—featuring straight forward connections; a premium Qatar Airways’ terminal with Wifi, showers, and a game room; and the largest duty-free airport shopping area in the world—may be reason enough to fly Qatar Airways. However, we promise this airline itself provides top notch service and state-of-the-art technology that will make any cross-country journey both comfortable and luxurious.
Complaints on this airline are few and far between, but some Qatar passengers reported that—while quite attractive—the young flight crew was sometimes inattentive and more interested in talking to each other than answering call buttons (one passenger reported waiting over 8 minutes). Still, if waiting 8 minutes for a drink is the biggest complaint about Qatar Airways, we think it is still a pretty good choice.
Cabin Comfort: Coach passengers can expect between 32 to 34 inches of legroom and 18.9-inch wide seats. However, if you’re flying Qatar we would highly recommend seeing why Qatar was rated the World’s Best Business Class by Skytrax in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Business Class passengers will have 78 inches of legroom (which is more than double what you get in Coach) and 22-inch wide seats with, might we add, built in massagers and a lie-flat bed with turndown service. Business Class is also situated in a Qsuite, partitioned off from the rest of the cabin to offer total privacy.
First Class provides even more seclusion and space with a private cabin that can be transformed from a workspace into a lie-flat bed. First Class also offers a variety of delectable appetizers, main courses, and desserts—accompanied by signature cocktails, luxurious table linens, and deluxe cutlery.
In addition to being young, attractive, and from over 105 different countries, you can expect the flight crew to take their jobs seriously (for the most part). Qatar certainly pays attention to detail when it comes to everything from service to finishes on the aircraft (seriously, the tray tables have a faux marble finish…how’s that for bougie?!).
Qatar also does not hold back when it comes to little extras that make the flight more comfortable. Whether in Economy or First Class, passengers will receive a free amenity kit packed with luxurious items including Institut Karite Paris lip balm, Miradent dental kit, ear plugs, socks, and even an eye mask.
Business Class passengers will receive an upgraded amenity kit that includes 100% cotton PJs and slippers from the White Company.
Between the extra amenities, the spacious seats, and the mood LED lighting that is designed to adjust the body to shifting time zones, you should have no problem catching some Zs on a long-haul flight.
Passengers also cannot get enough of the fantastic food on demand. That’s right, order whatever your heart desires (from the menu, at least) right from the back of your seat! Oh… and did we mention you can always expect your flight attendants to wear black serving jackets at mealtime? Now, that’s fancy.
Entertainment: While screens are slightly bigger in Business Class (17 inches vs. the 10.6-inch screens found in economy), each seat back features a state-of-the-art entertainment system with over 4,000 entertainment options including Hollywood movie releases, TV shows, video games, and other interactive activities. Wifi is also available on most flights, and each seat also features a USB plug. In addition to that, Business Class offers power outlets at every seat so passengers can charge laptops and other larger devices.
Baggage & Change Fees: Any changes or cancellations will be subject to a fee depending on lead time and membership tier. However, the fees aren’t bad, ranging from $25 (if made more than 24 hours prior to departure) to $100 (between 3 and 24 hours prior to departure). Anything within 3 hours of departure is non-refundable, aside from Airport and Government taxes.
Like most international airlines on our list, baggage is included with all fares, but allowances will vary according to route and cabin class. However, each passenger will generally be allowed two checked bags (on some flights only one) ranging from 50 pounds (Economy) up to 70 pounds (Business and First Class).
Regardless of the route, First and Business Class Passengers are allowed two pieces of carry-on luggage (which may not exceed 33 pounds total) and Economy passangers are allowed one piece of carry-on luggage (which may not exceed 15 pounds). On some flights, excess baggage may be purchased as a redemption of Qmiles or Qcredits (more to come on that later).
Customer Service: Qatar has one of the industry’s youngest fleets of ultra-long haul wide-body airliners, which consists primarily of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Both jets’ composite structure allows lower cabin pressure and higher humidity, which can together decrease the effects of jet lag—not to mention get you to your destination both safely and on time.
Qatar Airways also flies to over 100 destinations on six continents. On top of that, with an on time arrival percentage of 82.95%, making Qatar Airways one of the top 10 most punctual mainline airlines in the world.
Qatar is also one of just five airlines to receive a five-star ranking for customer service, and, both prior to your flight and while onboard, you can expect Qatar representatives and crew to provide you with only the best service.
Frequent Flyer Program: Qatar’s frequent flier program is referred to as the Privilege Club, which allows members to earn Qpoints or Qmiles just by flying Qatar. The Privilege Club offers four membership tiers – Burgundy, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – each with its own exclusive member benefits. Moving from tiers is easy and will happen automatically as Qpoints are earned to reach the required threshold, and the benefits get better as the tiers go up. Qatar even offers a family program which allows you to pool miles for quicker rewards when traveling as a family.
While benefits vary by level, you can expect: increased accrual rate, priority standby, priority boarding, priority check-in, excess baggage allowance, lounge access, preferred seats, Flexi awards (receive an award seat during high demand periods in exchange for double Qmiles when you make an award booking online), access to a travel coordinator, discounts, and more.
Air Fare: Qatar is currently offering a direct flight on Economy from Doha to Casablanca (about 8 hours and 30 minutes total) starting at 1825 QAR (about $500 USD) – which is a steal! However, a seat in Business Class on the same flight will range anywhere from 8235 QAR (about $2,260 USD) to 10,245 QAR (about $2,800 USD). While prices will obviously vary by class, time of year, and destination, Qatar Airways is far from the most expensive airline on our list.
Flex tickets allow for easy rescheduling at no cost
Baggage is included with every fare
Leading premium service airline for the land of Oz
Qantas may be best known for flying the world’s longest nonstop flight—nearly 17 hours from Dallas to Sydney—with the world’s largest plane, the Airbus A380. However, with excellent service, value fares, and award winning equipment, customers just cannot get enough of everything this airline has to offer.
Unless you spend the extra money to purchase a Flex fare, change and cancellation fees for this airline are some of the highest on our list.
Cabin Comfort: Qantas offers four classes of travel: First Class, Business, Premium Economy, and Cconomy.
In Economy you can expect ergonomically-designed, slim line seats with built-in lumber support, an adjustable headrest, and seat reclines. For longer flights you can also expect softer seat cushioning, netted footrests, and more legroom.
In Premium Economy you will be able to relax in the private Premium Economy cabin, tucked away on the A380’s upper deck right behind Business Class. The cabin features between 32 and 40 seats, with more space per seat and dedicated flight attendants. Like the Economy seats, the Premium seats feature an ergonomic design, but also include multi-way adjustable headrests, extra seat width, foot rests, additional legroom, and access to your very own snack bar. A number of amenities—including pillows, blankets, eyeshades, and socks—may also be available on long haul flights.
In Business Class, not only will you have access to business lounges prior to boarding, but each seat features a state-of-the-art, intelligent seating Skybed. Each seat, or Skybed, features a wide range of seat adjustments, unique massage options, reading lights, and personal inflight entertainment. Each Skybed also comes equipped with a new mattress, duvet, and turndown service. And, if you’re gonna go big, why not try Qantas’ T2 Wellbeing tea before bed? Customers can’t stop raving about it. In business class you will also have access to the private onboard business lounge, equipped with a 58mmLDC screen and refreshment bar. All Business Class passengers will also get to take home a stylish amenity kit which includes ASPAR Sweet Orange & Shea Hand Cream, Vanilla Orange Lip Moisturizer, and an Ultra-Hydrating face mask. Qantas-designed unisex grey pajamas are also available to Business Class passengers on select flights.
Finally, in First Class, you can expect to journey in unsurpassed luxury. Upon arrival to the airport you will have access to the Qantas First Lounge, featuring a signature menu, complimentary spa treatments, and private business suites. Once onboard, all First Class suites include a fully flat, extra-wide bed made with luxurious pillows, blankets, duvets, and sheepskin mattresses. Controls at the end of your armrest move your seat, leg rest, and lumbar positioning for customizable comfort. Additionally, each suite also features an automan—allowing you to host a companion if so desired. Snacks and light meals are available at any time during your flight, and First Class passengers are also welcome to prestige wines, spirits, beers, loose leaf tea, and espresso coffee. Luxurious amenities include Qantas First pajamas made of 100 percent, plus matching slippers and stylish amenity kits featuring Aurora Spa products, Martin Grant-designed socks, and maximum comfort eye masks.
Regardless of where you’re sitting, Bespoke Bickfords welcome drinks will be served after take-off, and all travelers can expect enjoy the high quality food and fine Australian wines (250 to choose from, to be exact) served in all cabins—for complimentary tasting!
Entertainment: All seating classes will have access to on-demand, inflight entertainment in the form of in-seat control and touch screen monitors throughout each flight. This includes access to over 500 entertainment options on smaller aircrafts, and 1,500 options on new A3080s and B747s.
Options include movies, TV shows, CD playlists, flight tracking, interactive games, and radio channels. Travelers also have the option to place personal phone calls and reply to texts using the entertainment control system.
Passengers in Premium Economy and Business Class also receive noise-cancelling headsets and have access to power outlets and USB connectivity on newer planes. Larger touch screens are also available to Business and First Class travelers.
Baggage & Change Fees: Baggage is included on every Qantas fare, with included checked baggage allowances being determined according to your itinerary. Weight allowances for checked bags will be determined by booking class, but range from the base 66 pounds all the way up to 174 pounds (for Platinum and Platinum One Frequent Flyers only).
Change fees depend on the destination, fare type, and class of ticket booked. No Change Booking Fees will be applied for changes on any Flex fares. For most destinations, all classes of passengers can expect to be assessed a change fee of $200 (Sale fares) to $300 (Saver fares). Cancellation fees will range from $500 (Economy and Economy Plus) to $600 (Business and First Class) for Sale fares and $200 (Economy and Economy Plus) to $300 (Business and First Class) for Saver fares.
Customer Service: Qantas prides itself on customer service and allows customers to reach out via both phone and internet with any customer service needs. The staff is friendly, understanding, and willing to go the extra mile to keep customers happy. Qantas is Australia’s leading premium service airline and is clearly dedicated to being the best.
On top of that, Qantas is incredibly reliable when it comes to on time arrivals and departures. In fact, in terms of punctuality, Qantas even surpasses our number one airline, Singapore Airlines, with an on time percentage of 86.18%—putting Qantas in the top 5 most punctual mainline airlines in the world.
Frequent Flyer Programs: Qantas frequent flyer program is one of the best available to business and leisure travelers alike. Qantas is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, which allows members to use benefits when flying on any Oneworld partner airlines.
Qantas Points can be earned through flights or credit card use, and Status Credits are earned strictly by flying. The amount of Status Credits earned per flight is based on the fare type, carrier, and flight length. Status Credits are what will help members move up membership tiers for better benefits. Membership tiers include Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Platinum One. Each tier comes with its own set of benefits, which may include any or all of the following: lounge access, free seat selection, additional baggage allowance, priority upgrades, bonus points, priority boarding, luxurious amenities, and premium cocktails while onboard.
Additionally, Qantas Points can be applied in a variety of ways, such as booking flights, hotels, and tours around the world. Points can also be used in the Qantas Store where members can purchase a number of items including headphones, appliances, and even Qantas luggage. However, keep in mind that points are much better spent on flights and upgrades, as the point per dollar ratio in the Qantas Store is not great.
Air Fare: Qantas is currently running a promotion where you can purchase a Flex fare from Dallas to Sydney for just $1,700, which is for Economy only. If you’re looking for Business or First Class expect to spend somewhere in the ball park of $8,600 to $11,500. Yeah…not cheap. But, what did you expect for the world’s longest non-stop flight?
Start exploring your destination before you even arrive with delicious meals from the heart of the region’s culture
Voted best inflight entertainment for 10 years in a row
Offers complimentary amenity kits to all classes of passengers
Emirates is known for offering posh perks to premium fliers—including cocktail lounges and inflight showers—but that’s not why it made our list of the best airlines. Economy passengers make up the bulk of travelers today and Emirates was one of the first airlines to take notice. From entertainment, to seat comfort, to food and beverage, this airline scores high marks in all categories—no matter what class of travel you embark on.
To be honest, people just don’t have a lot of bad things to say about Emirates. However, while luxurious, flying Business or Fist Class is outrageously expensive. But, with all of the amenities available in Economy, the extra cost of upgrading seems kind of unnecessary.
Cabin Comfort: As we mentioned before, it is Emirates goal to make Economy seating feel like an upgrade. First and foremost, the seats are comfortable and spacious. On top of that Emirates offers everyone an environmentally friendly, soft fleece blanket onboard—allowing all passengers to cozy up while watching the 3,500 channels of entertainment, dining on local cuisine tailored to your journey, and sipping complimentary cocktails to your hears content.
On top of that, Emirates provides all Economy passengers with water-resistant amenity kits filled with travel essentials, now you don’t see that in Economy every day. Something else we love about Emirates is the starry night sky you will experience while onboard. Told you Emirates makes Economy feel like an upgrade!
Business Class offers even more to love with wider lie-flat seats, an ergonomic headrest, an upgraded 23-inch HD TV, and an onboard lounge! But, in case that’s not enough, you will also have access to your own minibar, an upgraded menu, and high end cocktail selection (including champagne!). Emirates also offers Business and First Class passengers complimentary chauffer-drive service and will provide you with Bulgari amenity kits onboard to help you look and feel your best when you arrive to your final destination.
While it’s hard to believe Emirates has even more to offer, the airline manages to kick it up even further for First Class passengers. Enjoy all of the luxurious amenities offered in Economy and Business Class in your own private suite! Rejuvenate in the A380 shower and spa and savor fine dining whenever the mood strikes.
Another Emirates feature that we cannot get enough of, is the cuisine. Regardless of your seat class, what you will be served is determined by the region/country you’re flying to—allowing you to discover the country before you even arrive at your destination. But, if that’s not your cup of tea, you’ll also have a mainstay of favorites to choose from as well. Also expect a diverse selection of beverages, from juice and coffee to a full service bar—everything is free (aside for champagne, you’ll pay extra for that).
Emirates’ airport lounges are also pretty impressive, with showers and quite rooms at Dubai and other major destinations from New York to London.
Entertainment: Entertainment is another category where Emirates really shines, which has not gone unnoticed with Emirates being voted best inflight entertainment for 10 years running! Emirates offers state-of-the-art seat-back entertainment for all classes with 1,800 channels to choose from, as well as information and communication options while onboard.
What does that mean, exactly? While you can catch up on global affairs, watch the plane take off and land, checkout the plane's surroundings at any given time with three exterior cameras, track the planes movement and flight data, make calls, or enjoy entertainment from all over the world.
While Wifi connectivity is available, it does come at a price. Additionally, each seat comes with an individual USB port for inflight charging.
Baggage & Change Fees: Like most luxury airlines, baggage is included with every fare, but the allowance will be determined by the fare and class booked. Regardless of class, you can usually check as many pieces of baggage as you like—but weight must remain between 30 and 50 kg (depending on the class booked). Some destinations are subject to further limitations, so always check the Emirates website before flying.
Carry-on luggage is also dependent on the class of ticket booked, so if you’re flying First or Business Class you are permitted two pieces of carry-on luggage: one briefcase plus either one handbag or garment bag. If you’re flying Economy, you are allowed one carry-on briefcase. Regardless of class, no single carry-on item can weigh more than 7 kg.
While the Emirates website was rather vague, the website does indicate that a number of fares, including the most discounted or promotional fares, will incur a change fee. Read the fees carefully when booking, some are refundable and some are not. If you book a non-refundable flight you will be charged for the difference to change and likely a fee to chancel as well. If you’ve booked your ticket using reward travel, it will cost you between $25 and $75 to change or cancel.
Customer Service: Like a few of the other airlines on our list, Emirates’ flight crew is young, good looking, and extremely dedicated to service. Expect a pleasant and courteous experience both onboard and while planning your trip. In addition to providing travel assistance and answers to frequently asked questions on their website, Emirates also offers phone assistance 24-hours a day and provides a variety of ways to contact customer service online as well.
While Emirates did not quite make the top 20 list of overall best airlines for on time arrival percentage, it did come in 4th in the Middle East with a punctuality percentage of 79.71%. Additionally, with a growing fleet of Airbus A380s and an extensive flight network, Emirates and its international affiliates will get you safely (and typically punctually) to even the most far-flung, exotic destinations. Emirates also allows for free stopovers in Dubai so you can discover all the home city of Emirates has to offer.
Frequent Flyer Program: Emirates frequent flyer program, Skywards, is incredibly inclusive, so you don’t need to be a frequent business or first class traveler to reap the rewards. It costs nothing join and you will earn rewards as you fly with Emirates, as well as a number of other network partners across various industries (including Alaska Air, jetBlue, and Qantas—just to name a couple).
Rewards include free flights, free upgrades, and access to exclusive tickets for worldwide major sporting and cultural events.
Air Fare: While Emirates isn’t the cheapest deal on the market, it’s not exactly expensive either. Prices are competitive, falling within the low to average range. Emirates also offers a Best Price Guarantee, which will ensure that you’re receiving the best deal at the point of booking. How does it work? Well if you find an Emirates flight cheaper than the one advertised on the Emirates website, Emirates will refund you the difference (if more than $20, that is).
If Emirates prices are still too much for you to stomach, check out Emirates offer sales and promotion fares. Currently you can fly economy from New York to Dubai for just over $850—if for no other reason than to enjoy the wonderful service, delicious cuisine, and luxurious amenities onboard. Now, if you want to fly Business or First Class expect to pay between $11,000 and $27,000+ for the same trip. Those lie-flat beds and private suites look nice, but it sure will cost you!
Hundreds of hours of free entertainment while onboard
Ranked #1 as the Best Airline in the World by both Forbes and Condé Nast Traveler, Air New Zealand has spent years developing a brand new long-haul flying experience that will completely change the way you think about travel.
While a great idea, the Skycouch is really only feasible for couples willing to pay for an extra seat, or a group of three traveling together. Anyone outside of that would be better served just opting for Premiere Business.
Cabin Comfort: With some of the longest flights in the world, Air New Zealand pays incredibly close attention to seat comfort and legroom is ample on Air New Zealand’s wide-body planes. One of our favorite features of Air New Zealand (and why it landed so high on our list) is the lie-flat economy seats—or “Skycouch”, as Air New Zealand puts it—that pull-out to become a double bed.
Keep in mind that Air New Zealand offers three levels of Cconomy seating—Economy, Economy SkyCouch, and Premium Economy. An Economy Skycouch seat is exactly the same as Economy, except it features an additional footrest that folds up to form a couch, plus moveable armrests to create extra lounge space. Economy Skycouch is ideal for couples or families and will allocate all three seats in the row to your booking so that you can utilize the entire Skycouch for the duration of the flight. And, of course, both classes of Economy feature delicious food and great entertainment suitable for all passengers (more on that below).
Business travelers on a budget can opt for the expanded Premium Economy section, which offers customized luxury leather seats with a width of 19.3 inches (which is a step up from the 17.2-inch wide seats in Economy). In addition to more personal space, Premium Economy offers passengers extra baggage, free standard seat selection, expanded menu options, and a higher earning rate for bonus points. Premium Economy also provides passengers with an amenity kit full of toiletries and other items to ensure a comfortable journey.
The Business Premier cabin is essentially Air New Zealand’s version of “first class” and has been redesigned to provide long-haul travelers with unrivaled comfort and privacy. The seat provides a luxurious 22 inches of space, including a footrest that doubles as a visitor seat and dining table to accommodate two. The seat also reclines to a fully flat 6-foot 7-inch bed—fully decked out with a duvet, extra thick mattress, and two full size pillows—when desired. The bed is surrounded by a hard shell for extra privacy, and all Business Class seats provide aisle access (which, on a nearly 14 hour flight from Honolulu to Queenstown, makes all the difference). Business Class also features extended menu options, additional baggage allowance, free standard seat selection, premium check-in, courtesy lounge access, and a deluxe amenity kit.
And, arguably the best part, is that all classes will all get to enjoy the internationally acclaimed New Zealand wine selection, available on all flights.
Entertainment: All Economy seats feature a 9-inch HD touch screen packed with the hundreds of hours of the latest content, including new releases of movies, TV shows, music, games and more. Each seat features a USB port as well to allow you to power your devices inflight. Business Class will provide expanded entertainment with a 12.1-inch HD touch screen, providing the same content and USB port.
Baggage & Change Fees: Baggage is included with every fare, but the size, weight, and number of carry-on bags allowed varies by class of ticket. Economy fares are allowed one carry-on bag plus one small item (not exceeding 15 pounds each), while Premium Economy and Business are allowed two carry-on bags plus one small item (not exceeding 22 pounds for the small item and 30 pounds for the carry-on item itself).
Checked baggage depends on the flight destination and type of fare booked. For domestic flights, the Seat+Bag, Flexi Time, and Smart Saver fares include one checked bag, and the Flexi Plus fares include two. For international flights, the Seat+Bag, The Works, and Economy fares include one checked bag; the Works Deluxe and Premium Economy include two checked bags, and Business Premier includes three. Excess baggage can be purchased for an additional fee, which can range anywhere from $80 to $500+ depending on your destination.
For all Economy tickets, a cancellation will cost $300 prior to travel commencement and a change will cost $150. Business fares will be fully refundable, less the $500 cancellation fee for Business Saver tickets and less $250 cancellation fee for Business Value tickets. Business Class is fully refundable. For all Business fares a $150 charge will apply for no-shows. In regard to change fees, it will cost $400 to change a Business Saver ticket, $250 for a Business Value ticket, and free changes are permitted at any time for Business Class. The exception here is that all flights are fully refundable if cancelled within 24 hours of booking.
Customer Service: Air New Zealand provides superb service that won’t disappoint—both on the ground and at 30,000 feet. In addition to an online chat feature and a plethora of help topics to assist in addressing FAQs, Air New Zealand also offers phone support for reservations and booking inquiries 24-hours a day.
Air New Zealand has landed itself in the top 20 mainline airlines for on time arrivals, with an 81.33% on time arrival percentage in the 2018 Punctuality Report. Accordingly, you can expect excellence when it comes to both service and punctuality when flying Air New Zealand.
Additionally, Air New Zealand has one of the farthest reaching networks when it comes to available routes, and is the only airlines that will let you fly completely around the world with just one airline. Choose from stopovers in Asia, Australia, the South Pacific, and the U.S.
Frequent Flyer Program: Air New Zealand is also a part of the Star Alliance Network, which will provide you more opportunities to earn and redeem Airpoint Dollars and Status Points. Earn Status Points simply by travelling on Star Alliance member airlines, which will help you reach status levels sooner and allow you to earn more benefits when flying.
Once you reach Star Alliance Gold or Silever, you will receive priority attention and privilege on all Star Alliance member airlines. Additionally, Airpoints Elite and Gold members are also welcome to use any Star Alliance member lounge when traveling on a Star Alliance carrier operated flight.
Air Fare: A direct flight in Economy Class from Los Angeles to New Zealand will cost you between $1,400 and $1,800 round-trip, depending on when you want to travel. The same flight in Economy Premium will run you between $3,500 and $4,000 and Premiere Business somewhere in the ballpark of $7,000.
While not cheap, these rates, especially for Economy Premium and Premiere Business, are not as hefty as you will find on other luxury airlines.
Over 1,000 movies and TV shows available for free viewing
Nominal change fees make rescheduling a breeze
Extra leg room and seat space—even in Economy seating
If you’ve done any research whatsoever into the best ways to fly, you’ve surely come across Singapore Airlines. Ranked one of the top airlines in the world by CNN, Thrillist, Forbes, and Condé Nast Traveler, you know this has got to be a luxury airline you can trust.
Suites and First Class seats are limited, and only available if you are willing to shell out the, big—BIG—bucks.
Cabin Comfort: Well, to start with, let’s talk about the insane suites designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste. Not only do these private suites (complete with sliding doors and blinds, might we add) feature comfy seats with a separate bed to stretch out on, but two can be combined to create one queen bed and double room.
While these cabins can only be found on A380s, and are extremely costly, you have several additional seating classes to choose from, including First Class, Business Class, and Economy.
First Class is almost as nice, featuring cabins with giant beds and TVs. Business Class also features fold out beds, complete with linen duvets and pillows. And those in Economy still don’t even have it that bad with 19.5-inch wide seats (expect one less seat per row than most airlines) that recline a full 8 inches and feature calf and foot rests.
Singapore Airlines is also known for the unbelievable wine selection, with inflight sommeliers and free wine and champagne onboard, but the food should not be overlooked either. The menu is designed by 8 of the best chefs in the world, and those dining in First Class suites can expect 5-star meals such as Lobster Thermidor and Pad Thai. And, while maybe not lobster, the Asian inspired dishes in Economy are (almost) equally as delicious.
Entertainment: All seats feature a built in touch screen TV monitor with over 1,000 movies, TV shows, songs, and games. Additionally, each seat comes with noise-cancelling headphones, and some flights even have internet and text messaging available to passengers. Even at the very back of the plan you’ll have USB ports to charge your electronic devices. While the TVs may be smaller in Economy—13.3 inches verses the 18 inches you will find in the cabins and First Class—the same entertainment is available whether in the back of the plane or First Class.
Baggage & Change Fees: In terms of carry-on luggage, Singapore Airlines will allow up to two pieces of luggage (up to 7 kg each with the sum of length, width, and high of each piece not exceeding 115 cm) if you’re in the suites, First Class, or Business Class; and one piece of carry-on luggage, adhering to the same requirements, if you’re in Premium Economy or Economy.
While the checked bag allowances will vary by your destination and class of travel, expect to have 1-2 free checked bags ranging from 51 pounds (Economy) up to 110 pounds (First Class).
Much like baggage fees, change fees on Singapore airlines are based on the class of travel and type of ticket you purchase. For example, a change of date/time on a Singapore airlines flight is free for Advantage tickets and $25 for Saver tickets, while a change of route, cabin class, or award type will cost you a flat $25 regardless of the class of travel or type of ticket you’ve purchased. Regardless, the most expensive fee is a no show fee, which ranges from $100 in Economy all the way up to $300 in First Class. Aside from that, most fees are between $0 and $75—which honestly isn’t bad compared to most airlines.
Customer Service: Aside from the fact that you can expect each and every flight attendant to have undergone a four-month training program covering everything from wine appreciation to cultural sensitivity, if you need assistance in terms of booking or changing flights rest assured knowing that Singapore Airlines is committed to customer service, with delay contingencies and customer service plans in place to be utilized as needed.
Planes in the Singapore Airlines fleet are on average seven years old, and many are even younger. So, what does that mean for you? Expect equipment that’s efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly, and, best of all, on time. In fact, Singapore Air has a punctuality percentage of just over 84% per the 2018 Punctuality report, ranking the airline in the top 8 most punctual mainline airlines. Like we said, a luxury airline you can trust.
With such a young fleet this can’t come as a surprise, but Singapore Airlines is also known to regularly upgrade its planes with cutting edge technology and comfort—which applies to all seats and cabins.
Frequent Flyer Program: Singapore Airlines frequent flyer program, known as KrisFlyer, is one of the industry’s most simple and straight forward systems. Miles are accrued based on the distance flown and the class of travel. Singapore Airlines also partners with Star Alliance airlines (iAir New Zealand, ANA, Lufthansa, and United—just to name a few), as well as a number of non-alliance airlines (JetBlue, Virgin, Tigerair), so you can earn and redeem miles when flying with a number of other carriers. Singapore Airlines partners with a number of non-airline partners as well, which makes the miles earned as a KrisFlyer incredibly valuable.
Depending on what level of KrisFlyer membership, or PPS Club membership (reserved only for frequent and premium travelers) you hold, a number of other benefits may be available as well, including: priority standby, priority check-in, additional baggage allowance, priority boarding, lounge access, complimentary travel insurance, event invitations, membership gifts, and bonus miles.
Air Fare: Singapore Airlines is currently advertising flight promotions from San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Manila for right around $700 USD for Economy roundtrip through the end of 2018. Now, if you would prefer a suite, First Class, or Business Class, expect to shell out between $12,000-$14,000 USD…ouch.
Jenna is an Iowa native and former Chicago resident who is currently living her best life in the Tampa Bay area with her husband and fur baby. She has a BS in Political Science from the University of Iowa, as well a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
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