The results are in: Singapore, Emirates, and Virgin America airlines are our readers’ favorite airlines in the world this year. If there’s one theme that stands out in the Readers’ Choice Survey, it’s that flat beds and fancy video systems may be nice, but it’s in the decidedly low-tech realm of customer service that make these perennial winners (with ratings above the 81.000 minimum).
1. Singapore Airlines
Readers’ rating: 85.672
“This airline definitely treats you like a part of its family.”
“Great service, great food, and the flight crew actually smiled!!!”
“The flight attendants on Singapore Air are the most courteous of any airline.”
Flight attendants who greet passengers by name and fete honeymooners with champagne may sound like a throwback to the early jet age, but on Singapore Air, they’re part of the service mantra that’s drilled into the crew from the first day of a famously rigorous training program. (And yes, the distaff side still goes by the “Singapore Girl” moniker.) SQ also gets high marks for comfortable seating and continuous upgrades to its premium product, such as the Singapore Suites, a pair of fully flat recliners that can be transformed into a double bed, offered exclusively on its double-decker A380 planes. The carrier has bucked industry trends by investing heavily in its in-flight kitchens, with a “book the cook” program whereby premium fliers can pre-order meals designed by top chefs. Even in the back of the plane, fliers appreciate touches like dim sum breakfasts and the state-of-the-art Kris World seatback entertainment system. As one reader put it: “This is how an airline should be run.”
Readers’ rating: 85.672
“They truly care about their customers and always try to exceed expectations.”
“Amazing service and such a beautiful plane; staff are extremely polite and well educated.”
Emirates’ over-the-top amenities have gained it a loyal following among free-spending fliers: Where else could you take an in-flight shower or belly up to the bar than on the top deck of one of the carrier’s signature A380s? But readers also liked the friendly and courteous staff, a seatback entertainment system with 1,800 channels of entertainment, along with the “excellent” food, fine wines, and “champagne galore.” While the Dubai-based airline has luxurious accommodations in the pointy end of the planes—private suites in first class, compartments with mini-bars in business—it also gets a nod for having the “world’s best” airport lounges, complete with showers and quiet rooms at its hubs in Dubai and major destinations like New York, and London. And it gets praise for being family friendly—something you don’t hear too often in the airline business these days. “One of the best airlines to fly aboard if you have kids with you” was one typical comment.
3. Virgin America
Readers’ rating: 81.250
“Virgin is my favorite airline to fly on. You feel like you’re going to a club when you step on the plane. It’s modern, attentive, and their social media is amazing.”
As the U.S. outpost of Richard Branson’s vast Virgin empire, Virgin America had a lot of expectations to live up to, and judging from the survey results, the San Francisco line continues to deliver; our readers named it the top U.S. airline for the seventh year in a row. One reason: a real first-class product, not just the watered-down versions on other domestic airlines, and the fact that it’s not impossible to score an upgrade. Fliers also like the sophisticated but user-friendly interactive system that offers features such as touch-screen meal orders and seat-to-seat messaging, as well as a slew of video selections with lots of options for children. The line’s hip and irreverent style gets high marks, too, with a number of readers mentioning its rap safety video. As one reader remarked: “Virgin America has a high coolness factor.”
October 29, 2014