Looking over the past year we found a wide range of airline travel experiences, but those that impressed us were both some old favorites and new carriers. The exceptional list for this year has some common traits: efficiency, punctuality, engaging and intuitive in flight service. As a whole it is wonderful to see so many diverse companies increasing their standards to make the industry hospitality based and customer satisfaction driven.
This airline consistently stands out among the carriers we fly for their intuitive service and constant ability to lead the way in flight hospitality and efficiency. It is no wonder we prefer to take them whenever possible, because they always meet and exceed our expectations. Connecting routes across the world is just the beginning, having the ability to layover a few days in Dubai, easily upgrade to business and be treated like a premium passenger even in economy all the while buying fares at a competitive rate make Emirates a consistent favorite for us.
The seemingly night to day success of Turkish, which rose to global prominence nearly a decade ago is certainly not a fluke if you’ve been flying them as long as we have. Not only is Istanbul a logistical natural between Europe and Asia, the airline has met and exceeded intentional goals year after year. The carrier that serves more destinations, is moving its entire fleet to a brand-new city airport and harnesses the power of marketing in the digital age have been just some of the successes. We love the food and inflight entertainment, the availability and cost of fares as well as the well-timed layovers in Istanbul that even come with a complimentary hotel room if they are long enough.
The Latin American market has been a challenging one for the airline industry until recently. Routes were routinely costly and service needed an upgrade. The Colombian carrier was one of the first to fill the need for more reliable routes and fares with service that stood out. The benefits of their vision are increasingly evident. They are a solid option to fly to Europe or across the Americas. Service always comes with a smile while onboard and lounge amenities are above industry standard with bespoke and boutique indulgences.
The Royal Dutch carrier has been a go to carrier for us several times in the past year. First of all because their business class tickets are often accessible for discerning travelers. Hospitality is an encapsulation of what you can expect from standard European carriers, but even still a cut above the competition. The flights cover a wide range of short and long haul favorites, food is indulgent and flight logistics are efficient, the most typical of Dutch values.
This carrier has been one of our long-time favorites. It has consistently understood what in flight hospitality looks like even at times when it was not a priority in the industry. Copa rewards loyalty with baggage perks, upgrades and VIP treatment. Their base in Panama means it is a well centered option to fly the length and breadth of the Americas with relative efficiency. They have been on top of their game for quite a while and cheers to them for maintaining high standards.
While many Chinese carriers are unknown outside the country and most have decent, average in flight services, Shenzhen is the carrier that stands out in the lineup. They go the extra mile to be on time (delays are a big problem in China) to deliver a savory meal, to offer brand new planes that have a well designed set of specs. The hub airport of Shenzhen from which they operate is one of the biggest and most modern constructions we’ve seen in the world today. When in China and going to it, Shenzhen is always a carrier we hope to find and fly.
When moving around the Americas or between the Americas and Europe there are plenty of options, of course not all are created equal and some are downright miserable. Aero Mexico was a great option we experienced in the past year. They have competitive rates, good options to book with point transfers and even affordable upgrades. Service was far better than most carriers from the Americas to Europe and even bested some of the European transatlantic services we have tried in the past.
When traveling the massive subcontinent within a limited timeframe flying is the most efficient way to move and Air India is both reliable and amazingly affordable. Flights are constantly operating between the various cities and the feeling on Air India is always homey. We always appreciate the décor, friendly service and dietary specific meal options.
This carrier is actually a network of airlines originally LAN from Chile and TAM from Brazil. They now have regional planes across South America and we are most familiar with the Latam Chile experience. Highlights we have found include intuitive service, punctuality, good food, modern lounges and aircraft. Beyond jet setting around the reaches of South America, the airline is both an amazing and little known gate to Oceania: Australia, New Zealand and even Tahiti.
The first thing that stands out to us about Lufthansa’s virtues is the minimalist motif. They are one of the European carriers that fly to more U.S. destinations. Always reliable and punctual, with a connection time that feels like it might be too short, but is actually perfectly timed. The crew are always friendly and professional, ready and willing to assist. They have an eclectic range of destinations around the world as well. Their two hubs of Frankfurt and Munich provide lots of connecting possibilities and make for wonderful layover destinations in themselves.