Little seats, baggage fees, endless delays, long check-in lines and all the rest of it -- face it, flying can be the pits. Unless, of course, you stick to the pros. There is a better way to fly: the World’s Best Airlines. Exactly what you deserve.
Our friends at Skytrax conducted a 10-month worldwide survey that interviewed over 18 million people to get their take on what airline they thought was best. First, business and economy classes were all covered. The categories: check-in, boarding, seat-comfort, cleanliness, food and beverage and staff service. Here, the World’s Top 10 Airlines 2011.
Just who made this Mile High Club this year?
The flag carrier of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was conceived by a backing from the Royal family whose airlines provided them with their first aircraft. They have come a long way since. A mixed fleet now with orders of 90 Airbus A380s (those double-decker beauties; 15 already in service), Emirates not only focuses on their equipment but their service as well. The airline is known for its in-flight entertainment system with more than 1,200 channel and 280 movies. Visit: Emirates.com
9. Turkish Airlines
Covering over 180 destinations worldwide, we are pretty sure Turkish Airlines will be able to get you where you want to go. The gorgeous Danish tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki is the face of business and comfort class, so if she can travel with such ease why can’t we? This is its first time in the top ten. Visit: TurkishAirlines.com
Nicknamed “the flying Kangaroo” Qantas is the second oldest continuously operated airline in the world. With zero fatalities since 1951 (before then the planes were helping out with military actions), Qantas has a perfect safety record. The airline flies to 21 international destinations worldwide, and of course all over Australia. It is no stranger to “the list” either, being part of the world’s top ten for the last six years. Visit: Qantas.com
7. Air New Zealand
Well, if you've seen their naked safety videos, you know Air New Zealand does not hold back. Traveling to over 24 international destinations its longest haul is 14 hours. But passengers do not complain. On board meals include a rack of lamb and fine country wines (all of what the country is best known for). This must be why it was also named best airline in the Australasia and Pacific Region. Visit: AirNewZealand.com
6. Etihad Airways
This time the United Arab Emirates airline is based in Abu Dhabi. It is not quite the same as flying “Afdal Air”, like the SATC girls, but it comes close to it. Only being in full operation from 2004, this airline has come a mighty long way. Operating 1000 flights each week to over 70 destinations, you have a choice between the Diamond, Pearl or Coral zone. Another nice surprise, the in-flight entertainment system allows you to plug in your own USB so you can listen/watch your own audio, video and picture media. Visit: EtihadAirways.com
5. Thai Airways International
Definitely not a new comer to the category -- it's a founding member of the Star Alliance (the first and largest airline alliance) -- Thai Airways serves 72 worldwide destinations with a fleet of 85 carriers. They are one of few airlines that require female staff to do a costume change prior to boarding passengers. Thai Airlines may not have the lady boy airhostesses (yet) but they are known for their friendly staff. Visit: ThaiAirways.com
4. Cathay Pacific Airlines
Headed out from Hong Kong, it holds the title of the world’s third largest airline. Being the first airline to fly over the North Pole, it also serves 114 destinations worldwide. After extensive refurbs in each class, the airline now has seats that are perfect for all. In first class you can be treated to a massage chair, in business you get a massive width seat with electronic reclinability and in economy be treated to a larger seat and a shell design which allows the seat to recline but not intrude on the person behind you (love this!). Visit: CathayPacific.com
3. Asiana Airlines
Winner of the Best Economy Class, if you're traveling cattle class, then this is the airline to do it in. Flying out of Seoul it is one of only seven airlines that have been given five-star status from Skytrax. The airline also flies high with a flying magic show, mask pack service and make-up service so you are entertained and refreshed on your long haul flights. Visit: FlyAsiana.com
2. Singapore Airlines
One of the world’s leading carriers, Singapore Airlines creeps into No.2 this year. Yet it does have a long history of firsts. The first to have an Airbus A380, the first to introduce satellite-based in-flight phones, the first to offer free headsets, meals and drinks in economy class (thank goodness) and the first to introduce one of the longest flights: Singapore to Newark, NJ in 18 hours. Singapore Airlines offers four different class types, fine cuisine and a new entertainment systems with movies, TV, music, games, a USB port and an in-seat AC power-point. Visit: SingaporeAir.com
1. Qatar Airways
Dah dah dah dahhh. The world's BEST airline award goes to one of the youngest fleets in the world: Qatar Airways. Based out of Doha and flying to over 100 destinations worldwide it is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, climbing from No.8 to No.1 in just over six years. And if you're lucky enough to fly first or business class through their Doha hub, make sure you check out their Premium Terminal, equipped with all three meals of the day, wines, work stations, a spa to be pampered or a bedroom to rest your head while you wait for your next flight. Visit: QatarAirways.com
-- JESSICA KLAEBE