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Top 10 International Economy Airlines

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.

10. American Airlines

B757 15

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.

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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.

8. Malaysia


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.

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5. Air France

Sj Air France 747-400

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.

4. Cathay


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

A380 01

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

Air New Zealand Boeing 747 400 Departs Christchurch

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.

1. Emirates


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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  • Juggz

    Qantas yah Qantas!

  • dalandzadgad

    yep..emirates is the best. they had enough entertainment/snacks to keep me comfortably
    occupied for a 16 hr flight.

  • Juggz

    Come to think of it I’ve never actually been on a plane.

  • RobS

    OK, I think this airline was just continental US, back in the 80’s. I can’t even remember the name of the airline, but I think it was something like “Budget Air”, but was called ‘The Greyhound Bus of the Skies”, by everyone I knew.
    They actually pushed a CASH REGISTER up the aisle prior to taking off!!!
    That’s how you paid!

  • Juggz: hehe – at least you are rooting for one of the top 10 :)

    dalandzadgad: My friend flew Emirates from NZ to London and found them to be excellent. I am flying Emirates to NZ for Christmas.

    RobS: that is awful and reminds me a lot of Ryan Air – the budget airline in Europe. The seats are made of hard plastic and you have to pay for your snacks!

  • Samsung

    I’ve done a long haul flight on both Emirates and Air NZ (NZ to Europe).

    Seats seemed much bigger in air NZ (maybe I’ve just grown alot since I was 13)

    I thought some of the emirates flight attendants (one woman in particular) were very rude, but the in seat entertainment was awesome compared to Air NZ.
    The food was great on both flights but there was more of it on emirates.

    Biggest issue with air NZ is that stopover was in LA; security is so tight we got locked up in a small departure lounge with horrible plastic seats for three hours. Dubai was much more interesting.

    Basically what I’m trying to say is Jfrater got the top 2 in the right order. Yay! In Decmeber I’m flying to germany with singapore airlines

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  • Rob

    Look up delta song, really good service and entertainment, includeing touch screens for all passangers, free music to listen to and many other accomidations such as games which you can play against other people on the plane.

    Come to think of it, I dont know if its international but it did take me to Puerto Rico

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  • Lance

    Yay! Malaysia made it to the list lol

  • Charles Starr

    These are good I agree, but you looked over two very nice ones. Scandanavian airlines have tvs and good service and food. Air India is also very good.

  • Charles Starr: I have not flown on either of those airlines – are the air hostesses pleasant? They can really ruin a journey if they are sour.

  • hayley

    I’ve flown with Emirates on an 18hr flight to the Philippines with the stop off at Dubai in the middle & thought it was top class! I have been flying with them for 9 times already and just turned 18! The air hostesses are great, the food is nice & the entertainment, well keeps me entertained! The stop off at Dubai is great as there are so many shops, great for when you have a long wait for the next flight. I also found it very reliable as well as it has never been late compared to Philippine Airlines (PAL) should be known a Plane Always Late!

  • hayley: thanks for mentioning that – I have a 30+ hour flight to New Zealand with them in December and I am really looking forward to it.

  • hayley

    no problem, have a great time!

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  • Jan

    Hey Hayley, wher wer u from (coz were planning to fly London-Dubai-Manila Return)

    And, wat site did u use 2 book???

  • Virgin Atlantic was a pleasant surprise. Lufthansa was good as well, Mein Flugbegleiter war ein sehr schönes Mädchen mit schönen großen Brüsten und sehr, sehr freundlich.
    Aer Lingus was a nightmare, a friggin nightmare.

    • chrissy

      wat are u saying ?????

  • I will really love to fly Air france soon

  • Clues

    El Dude Why was Aer Lingus so bad? I have a 10 hr flight booked with them next month from LA to Dublin. Now I am worried!

  • kfinn

    Love Cathay Pacific for going to the Philippines, it’s always been great. they can even make the grueling 13 hour flight from LA to Hong Kong comfortable.

    I hear Singapore is really great too, I’m flying with them to the Philippines this summer. Hope it’s as great as it sounds. :]

  • Zash

    I don’t think Air France should make this list. The seats are VERY small and the staff was snooty. Late arrivals, bad planes. Lost 2 days in Paris thanks to them. The French people were nice, but AF staff are not the most polite. I was sent to London to catch a British Airways flight, which was alot better! AF personal TV’s are horrbile too with very few movie selection.

    I’m flying Cathay Pacific, Singapore and Malaysian airlines next month for work. They seem to have the best ratings so far.

  • buckland

    have been on lot of airlines over the years on long haul flights best one for me was singapore,brill with evrything,so friendly,good leg room.
    2)thai and emarites,joint 2nd just as good as each other
    3)eva,this was very good airline well worth the money and i think better than british airways
    4)british airways,dont think they are as good as they say.but 1st class brill got this free because argument on board and due to being preg they moved me and husband to 1st class.

    Also flown with Bangladesh airlines,lets just say 1st and last time.

  • Miich.

    I think this is a really great and helpful website, because of the list it tells me what has much more better quality..

  • Eoin

    I dont know much about airlines, but BA never seemed that great to me.

  • uvberot

    you should have a ” Worst International Airlines” List.

  • random

    not all airline has big seats you know and not all of them have tvs and stuff and there’s a reason for that traveling near or far i don’t think this even makes sence lol but anyway so if you travel short way then there’s more of a chance there isnt a tv thing or anything

  • Steven Hall

    Great list!
    I have also posted up to date airline fee information for you at

  • Frankie

    Singapoure airlines are great, especally on the A380, the seat are resonalbly large, the Tvs are great and the staff are extreamly friendly the only down points to this airline was that when i flew with them from london uk to New Zealand the staff woke me up to give me food.haha.
    from this list i have decied to fly with emeraties on my way back to the UK this year. thanks.

  • SnowKid32

    Try taking aeroflot. I love russians but the people in your airports ARE FUCKING ASSHOLES.

  • hannah

    virgin atlantic sounds good – free alcohol :D

  • Kathleen

    Cathay is my personal favorite, been flying it for years. And I love the new seats, instead of reclining back, they almost recline down, but it’s comfortable.

    Singapore is great too, I’ve only flown them once though. But it sure was a comfortable trip. :D Too pricey for me, unfortunately.

  • Katie

    When JetBlue goes international (right now it’s just USA) it definitely needs to go on this list. I’ve flown with them at least 10 times and never even had the slightest delay or mishap. Personal TV’s for every seat. Great experience!

  • Myke

    I want to how much it cost from Nigeria to Australia

  • erotheking

    I would agree with that. As my own experience, I flew several times with emirates and singapore airlines they offered me a very good services with high quality food eventhough you are sitting in economy class.But I disagree about the air new zealand.

  • filipinagossipgirl

    I can’t survive Malaysian airlines, the smell of the lavatories, it’s like smothered w/ acid, I guess it’s because of the spicy foods Malaysian people it. It’s like that on washrooms on their country, & much worse on the plane. I can’t even come near. My boss actually vomitted when she used the lavatory.


  • Dudes

    Totally agree qith your no. one airline!

    they’ve got good service and nice big seats and also good, fast service+they take good care of the luggages
    can’t wait to hop on another 1 for an 18hr flight to Philippines.

    (Dubai stopover int too bad either)

  • AEQ69


    good overall list, but I would have included Thai instead of American Airlines (I’m surprised this even made the list).
    Singapore in my opinion ranks a very close second to Emirates.

  • steven

    Air Canada l’ve made my flights across the country and of to Europe, touchscreen tv’s :P
    Free snacks, comfy seats

  • M Mac

    do not use BA they are a disaster and very expensive. Emirates excellent also Lufthansa and KLM.

  • Thursday

    You listed Singapore Airlines! Thank God xD

    It IS a very good airline.


    I’m shocked that Emirates got the first place.

    I used Emirates quite a number of times (journey to Singapore) and it was just ok.

    At one time the guy who sat in front of me had a broken seat and it kept on going lower and lower back.

    Talk about not being able to eat.

    Haha :D

    But their private TVs, huge chairs and baggage capacity for each individual (30 KG!!!) are good!

  • Thursday

    @ 6 (Samsung): Yeah! Emirates hostesses can be bitches sometimes.

    Recently, when I was booking a ticket to S’pore (As you can notice after my ramblings on this country for hours, I’m a S’porean), that bloody Emirates worker was paying me only half of her attention.

    She was trying to listen to her free workers’ jokes at the next table! (And those workers on break were bloody noisy too.)

  • dizy

    this list lacks ryan air.

  • chrissy

    ienjoyed this artical but i need to know "What are the best airlines to take to dubai"

  • abhibhav sharma

    qutar airlines is also a good one it should also come in top 10

  • Ian from Canada

    chrissy i flew emirates from toronto to dubai it was crowded but the best i’ve been on, lots of perks.

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  • Johnny

    Why isn't Itehaad Airlines on the list!

  • Misty

    JetAirways of India is an amazing International carrier on par with Emirates and Singapore Airlines. I don't know what Air France is doing on this list…..the food and service are average. I am now a gold member of Emirates flying from India-dubia-Toronto once or twice a year. Fantastic airline!! Food, entertainment system, service etc are world class. But Jet Aiways… definitely comparable. The service is amazing, the food outstanding…..with lots of choice ….and again a fantastic entertainment system on board. Try it!!!!

    The worst we've flown is Air Canada, Delta (terrible service and rude staff) and Air France. Sorry!!

  • dave

    ryanair are cheapest- like buses- but cheapest

  • nice list!

  • DGMdragunov

    What? No JetBlue???

    • jay

      who is ownor of jet airways

    • Matt

      Jetblue does not have any major international flights to Europe, Asia, Middleeast or South America, and would not be a qualifier for measuring International Economy Long Haul.

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  • Matt

    I am shocked to find that you put American on your list, I do a lot of long haul travel from the US to China, American offers one of the smallest tv’s and a old/small selection of movies, they also use a 2-5-2 configuration on their 777’s, with uncomfortable seating, and dim service, I would place Continental(not United) higher on the list, as they provide over 300 movies and tv shows, good food, and a 3-3-3 configuration on their coach seats, plus they have two AC power ports in each row that does not require an adapter, just plug and use, their service is good, and they have better connections to the East Coast, via Newark. I have also flown Cathay from NY to HK and it is a great coach seat with a shell design, great service, food and entertainment.

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  • May

    Awesome list, i’ve only flow Emirates, which I really like. I’d add Qatar Airways to the list, as they’re also quite good, you should give them a try if you get the chance. :) I’m not sure if you have a list like this already (i’m still navigating the site) but i’d love to see a list of the world’s worst airports! I know i’ve had a terrible time at a few of them :p

  • 787 Advocate

    Great list. Emirates are good, but not great. The seats on the B777 are hideous; quite tightly packed, Great on the A380. Not sure of the A340/330.
    Inflight service on any airline, depends on the crew on the day. Most crew behavior is influenced by the mood/management style of the on-board manager.
    ANA (Japan) deserves a mention – generally very good.
    Qatar Airways – the best economy service, the most leg room in economy by far!
    Hawaiian Airlines – very friendly crew, good service, seats depend on the aircraft type.

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  • Rye T.

    Emirates is excellent. Best flying experience ever. Everything was smooth and fuss-free and the entertainment choices were incredible! Qatar is also a very good airline, I think it deserves a mention. Singapore Airlines is good as well, but rather pricey. Those would be my personal top three.

  • Joseph

    Air New Zealand are the best economy airlines I have ever flown with. Great service, Good seats & their safety videos are humorous.

    Now ALL of their jets have videos.


    What is American Airlines doing on this list ? Flew with them several times, and every single time it was bad experience.
    I always flew on a little bit longer distances ( NY- LA, Seattle – NY, Miami – LA ) and they were always expensive, not very polite service and to my surprise no meals on any of those flights. Being European, it’s normal for me to get at least a snack on any flight within Europe ( even for 1 hr flights ).
    I think that Lufthansa deserver place on this list much, much more than AA.

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  • ujmoldovia

    Worst airline from my experience Air France from Sao Paulo to Paris was a nightmare and the best was with MALEV going from London to Budapesy.

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  • Anonymous

    Another thing stopping Air NZ, the student safety videos they keep showing, although I must admit they are hilarious.

  • Stewdog

    Qantas has never crashed. Not once.

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