The best airlines

The best international airlines are Singapore, Emirates, Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic. The best domestic airlines are Virgin America, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Alaska and Southwest. CNTraveler has the full lists.


  1. While I’ve enjoyed Virgin Atlantic, I never understood the love Virgin America gets. The TV/internet never seems to work, and for the most part, it’s just your typical crappy American domestic flight, but with pink and purple lights.

    1. I never had those problems with the TV, and the pink and purple lights combined with soothing trance music were very effective at keeping the entire environment calm and **quiet**. Yes I knew that was intentional and that we were being psychologically manipulated and I loved it.

      I was also a big fan of being able to order food whenever I wanted. 

    2. At least for me, VAm flights are always cheaper than the others. Their customer service is top notch and makes me feel like a person and not cattle while flying.

  2. Meh.  It’s a reader’s poll.  I put as much stock in Donald Trump as I do a reader’s poll. Well, maybe a little more in the reader’s poll, now that I think about it…

  3. *cough* Virgin Atlantic? Really? On the two times I’ve flown with them I have had nothing but trouble. First flight I didn’t get a veggie meal, even though it specifically said veggie on dietary requirements (ended up limited to bread rolls and “snacks”), the second was worse. I had an asthma attack when they sprayed a chemical based de-deodoriser into the plane compartment when coming back from Japan. Sorry Richard B, you’ve had two chances. Never again.

  4. Interesting (and of course makes sense) that the top international airlines all operate a lot of long-haul routes.

  5. The couple of times that I flew Singapore, around 2000,  were indeed awesome.  Their Business Class is a lot better than some people’s First Class.   The on-board entertainment system was way in advance of what I’d seen anywhere else: a ton of video games, the GPS flight map of your plane, and more good music, movies and TV shows than you had time to watch.  They even had the Mr. Bean episode where he takes an airplane ride!

  6. United, and American Airlines aren’t on the list you say?! Shocking! Utterly shocking.

    I think the domestic list is probably just a collection of corn in the turd.  

  7. My very favorite foreign airline is Air Tahiti Nui; I suspect they didn’t make the list because they don’t have very many US flights.  We’ve not been to Tahiti (yet – we dream of it occasionally though) but we did fly ATN nonstop Los Angeles/Paris twice.  Soooooooo nice!  Generally cheaper than Air France; good food, decent seats, and really wonderful service.  

  8. Emirates?  No thanks!  I’m sure they run a nice airline, but if there’s any risk of stopping in Dubai, where they’re so paranoid about drugs that a few poppy seeds in the bottom of your bag makes you a drug smuggler, it’s simply not safe to fly on their planes.  One traveller was arrested there because there was .003 grams of cannabis stuck to the bottom of his shoe.  A woman who’d had codeine prescribed by her dentist after a root canal that day was also arrested. And who knows if one of the medicines I take has a different name in Dubai, where it’s on the “arrest you for drugs” list?  Is Sudafed enough of an amphetamine for them to count? 

    Singapore may have “We execute drug smugglers” signs in the airport, but they’re not over-the-top crazy the way Dubai is.

  9. As someone who’s flown on many of the airlines on that list, I’d say you could turn the whole list on it’s head and it might be more accurate. Also, why would you post this poll in the first place?

  10. Virgin Atlantic has too many smaller Airbuses with smaller, tighter seats, or at least they did when I flew to London several years ago.  Combine that with Virgin Cola, and it was not a thoroughly pleasant experience.
    A couple of years later, I flew to Zurich via Swiss Air and let me tell you – that was much nicer.  So from experience, Swiss Air is a cut above Virgin.

    Then whatever happened to KLM on this list?  When they were legendary back in the 90s, I took a two-hour flight on KLM (Venice to Amsterdam), and even in economy class, the stewardesses walked up and down the aisle with a pitcher of fresh orange juice and a basket of warm, steaming baguette and butter.  Better even than Swiss Air nowadays.

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