Flying internationally can be a literal pain in the a** and it is something that I have to do quite often; so I have decided to make a list of the top 10 airlines to fly if you are flying economy. This list does not apply to US domestic air travel. The selections for this list are based upon seat quality, quality of extras (for example, personal TV), and service quality (staff and food). The heaviest bias in deciding positions is towards comfort, with service as a secondary. The data used in this chart is from SeatGuru. I have used only the top rating jets of each airline.
When I started compiling this list, I was not expecting American Airlines to do very well, but I was surprised to find it had excellent extras, such as standard DC power at many seats. If they had power at all seats they would have scored higher. They also have personal televisions on every jet. The service was a little low, but it was bearable and their large seats make up for a drop in quality there.
9. British Airways
Both British Airways and Qantas scored low for having the smallest seats in the list. My own experience of both of these airlines, is that while service is generally good, and food is very good (on Qantas), the seats are very uncomfortable. I was also disappointed to note that BA does not have power at any seats.
The Malaysia air service is very good, and their seats are in the top on the list for size. While they lack electricity at the seats, they have personal televisions for all economy travelers. Friendly staff also helps their ranking here.
7. Qantas Airways
Aside from the unfortunate seats, Qantas has a good reputation and very friendly service. The food is good and everyone has their own television. Unfortunately there is also no power at the seats on this airline.
6. Virgin Atlantic
My experience of Virgin Atlantic was extremely good. The British staff were much more pleasant and friendly than the BA staff and you could tell that they have a real eye for detail in the interior and extras. Unfortunately there were some major breakdowns of the televisions when I was on my last Virgin flight and nothing was able to be done for the duration. The seats could definitely be bigger, but all in all the service on Virgin is great. Free alcohol all the way.
This is another surprise airline. Almost every review I found on this airline was very good or excellent – the exceptions were generally relating to delays which are not always under the control of the airline itself. The seat sizes here also rank in the top, and the food (being French) is excellent and on long haul flights a buffet is available at all hours.
Cathay Pacific have big seats, very friendly staff, personal TVs for all, and power at all seats. Cathay is now using a special type of reclining chair based on an office chair design, that allows you to recline without intruding on the passengers behind you – which means you will not be intruded on either.
3. Singapore Airlines
This airline has always been at the front of new developments in air travel. While providing the most common features of the other airlines here, they now provide live television and access to OpenOffice software with USB access.
2. Air New Zealand
The only thing stopping Air New Zealand from being number one on this list is the fact that not all of their jets have personal televisions; aside from that, the service is top, and the food is excellent.
Big seats, great service, and personal TVs for all. With Emirates you get AC power at the seats and access to StarOffice software and USB. Emirates also has a mini bar at the rear of economy which is available with snacks and drinks for the duration of the flight. You can also email and SMS from your seat. This airline deserves its rank as number 1.
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