What Is The Best Airline?
I suppose it can only be expected after such a lengthy world trip that used around 12 different airlines, the inevitable question arises: What is the best airline? While there were some that absolutely stood out, the question really is quite subjective. It depends on what criteria you use to measure an airline’s performance.
Not only that, but some criteria will be more important to you, and some will only require a quick mention. On that basis, I’m going to define the criteria here, then on each airline, we’ll get into a much more comprehensive review individually.
Please remember that these are our personal experiences, and yours may be completely different to what we encountered. We may have nothing but accolades to give a particular airline, whereas you may find you’d be more likely to give a brickbat!
Please also note that I am only going to review airlines that we actually used so I can offer you real experiences and not something that’s just been found somewhere on the internet.
We’ll use the following criteria, but please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions – I’m only an email away!
AIRLINE REVIEW CRITERIA
Okay, so these are the things we measured and compared in order to decide which airline we would use for a particular leg of our journey.
Luckily enough, some of you don’t have to worry about the costs. To a certain extent, we didn’t really set a limit on costs, although airline flights was one area in which we paid particular attention to competitive pricing. We didn’t believe that there would be a huge difference in prices, but the old adage “you get what you pay for” is certainly applicable to airlines.
There are some airlines out there with prices that appear too good to be true – and sadly, they are. Do a Google search and 9 times out of 10, you’ll find that there’s something not quite right. For example, an airline I am aware of has ridiculously cheap fares, but customer service is non-existent, they are always running late, and have more than their share of mechanical troubles. Not for me, thanks!
We were happy to strike a happy medium with pricing. Any price that appeared cheap only needed a quick check on Google to see if there was an obvious reason for the cheap tickets. For example, another airline was actually reeling from the effects of several crashes in a short period of time. They really didn’t have much choice other than to lower their prices, as their customer base almost disappeared overnight. Do your homework. It doesn’t take long, and it will be well worth the peace of mind.
These were actually very important to us. Several of our flights were marathons – meaning that the supply of good food was important because there was no choice. This criteria was flexible, however, depending on the length of the flight. It was only the long haul flights where meals were important. Some shorter trips – like 2 or 3 hours – we didn’t use meals as criteria for choosing an airline.
I don’t know if it’s just me or not, maybe I was just looking in the wrong place, but I found it incredibly difficult to find out what meals were going to be served on a particular flight. I don’t mean the content of the meals, I mean what actual meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc). In my opinion, this is quite important as you have 2 extreme situations that can occur.
Firstly, you can eat before departure and then run the risk that a full meal is served up an hour into your flight! I don’t know about you, but if this happens to me, there’s no way I can eat the airline meal, and then I feel like I’m not getting value for my airfare!
Secondly, you can do the opposite and not eat prior to departure, believing that you’ll get a meal on board, and in reality, it just doesn’t happen. Yes, I can hear you say “first world problems”, but in my case, it really does matter as I am diabetic. Type II, but is means I still have to monitor my intake and regulate when I eat, which is difficult if you are relying on an airline meal when there isn’t one.
Admittedly, nowadays there are snacks available on almost all flights, but to find something suitable can be a nightmare. As it is, the change of food and disorderly eating times plays havoc with my blood sugars anyway, so just to know that there are certain meals served on certain flights would make the world of difference.’
This one is also extremely subjective as we all have different needs. For example, for a tall person, legroom is really important on a long haul flight. For me, as a shorty, I have the opposite problem!
They all laughed at me, but I found something for us shorties, and it was perfect. What was it? Well……
It’s a travel foot sling-thingy. Actually, I don’t know what its real name is, but that’s what I call it. You can read all about it on my page on travel accessories, or if you know you’ve just got to have one, check them out here. Please check out the travel accessories page first though, as there are a couple of things you need to know before you buy one – there are different sorts and you need to make sure you get the right one, and on that page, I’ll tell you why.
Even as a shorty, I found that a couple of our flights were really disappointing, and while there’s not much you can do about it if the other criteria suits your needs, it’s still best to be aware.
It seems the trend nowadays is for airlines to fit as many seats in as possible – obvious, I guess. More seats, more bums on seats! However, this comes with an issue that I don’t think some of them thought about. Yes, you can recline your seats now to a much bigger degree than you ever could before, but if you want to get out of your seat, Houston – you’ve got a problem. This is especially awkward during the night, when you’ve just got to go to the bathroom, and everyone around you is asleep.
You see, when everyone has their seat reclined, getting out when the person in front of you is fully reclined can be like trying to manoeuvre a bus. I mean, I’m sure maybe Houdini could’ve done it, but I couldn’t. Well not in a ladylike fashion anyway. There’s such a tiny gap to get out, and that even includes having to climb over the armrest. You can’t leverage yourself by using the seat in front of you, because you don’t want to disturb the sleeping beauty in front of you. But believe me, in the end you’ve just got to do your best. I mean, I was in an aisle seat – just imagine having to get out from a window seat!
Another disclaimer: Our experiences are based on economy class seating. Naturally, if you travel first class, you probably won’t encounter any of the issues we did, but I wanted to review what most people will experience and not just you lucky few that can fly in First Class or Business Class, or “Hotel In The Sky” style.
This one probably goes without saying – of course you want to feel safe and secure while you’re flying. Luckily, aircraft mishaps are fairly few and far between, so it’s easy to check online to see just how safe your chosen airline is. Enter the airline’s name into the trusty Google search engine, and you’ll get a wealth of information. You’ll find review from other travelers if you enter ” (airline name) reliability”, and if you enter “(airline name) safety record” or “(airline name) crashes”, you’ll find out what their history is in these areas.
So those are the 4 main criteria that I used when choosing our airlines. The only sure thing you have is the price, because you have to rely on other people’s reviews to find out how comfortable a long haul flight will be. As far as meals go, seeing its so difficult to find out what you are going to be served, you can only go by reviews on the quality of meals served in general.
So what is the best airline? Define your own personal criteria first, then you can check out our reviews of the airlines we traveled with. I will warn you though, these are actual reviews – for better or worse.
AIRLINES WE TRAVELED WITH
As I add each airline review, the name will become a live link so you can check out our review for each one. Enjoy!
Air New Zealand