Ten of My Faves -My Top Airlines

a group of airplanes parked at an airport

People often ask me what are my favourite airlines? Here is the answer, after 1300 flights on 103 airlines almost 75 times around the world.

a table with numbers and a yellow background

My flight memory. Almost six months inside a metal tube

Of the 103 different airlines I have travelled on, two of them I will never choose to fly on again (Air Asia and Ryanair) and two I regularly avoid (TigerAir and United). Others have merged or gone bust.

My top ten currently ranked favourites are:

10. Virgin Australia -in a few short years, they have transformed themselves from a budget carrier to a full service global carrier. I really enjoy their offerings. 2018 was a difficult year for the airline but staff continued to provide great service. My Score: 88% (unchanged from last year)

9. Turkish Airlines hospitality is incredible with gracious staff, stunning food and well fitted out planes. My Score: 90% (unchanged from last year)

a large airplane on a runway

Thai A380 at Bangkok Airport April 2018

8. Thai Airways: My favourite joke about Thaï is counting how many hot towels they will bring me in business Class during one of their flights. It seems at every moment, another refreshing towel appears! Thai service is gracious, food terrific and entertainment options solid. For some reason, I can always fall asleep on a long haul Thai flight. Their fleet is very inconsistent and their older planes need refurbishments

My Score: 91% (93% last year)

purple flowers on a table

I love the orchid, Thai always has waiting for long haul Business passengers at boarding

7. Qantas is the airline, I fly the most. I always feel welcome on board, enjoy good quality food and remain in love with the First lounges in Melbourne and Sydney. My biggest frustration with Qantas is that service can be inconsistent depending on crew and their mood. Some of their planes and lounges need some refurbishment to bring product up to 2018 standards. My Score: 92% (unchanged from last year)

an airplane wing above clouds

Qantas Airbus 330 VH-QPE winging its way over New South Wales in February, 2018 toward Sydney

7. Cathay Pacific have long been a favourite of mine but I have felt some slippage over the last 12-14 months. Embroiled in some ugly labour disputes, the company’s service feels like it has been fraying around the edges.  My Score: 92%  (98.5% last year)

a man taking a selfie in an airplane

Aboard a Cathay Pacific A350 in July, 2018

a sign on a door

Out of service lavatory on the same brand new Cathay A350

5. Air New Zealand provides delightful Kiwi service with a solid on board product. My Score: 94% (98% last year)

4. Lufthansa delivers consistently excellent service. Consistency is important to me. It is one of my frustrations with Etihad who you never know what you are going to get. Anyway, Lufthansa has amazingly good food, some of the best lounges I have encountered and warm efficient customer service.  My Score: 96% (unchanged)

3. Singapore Airlines have striven to be the best for so long. Always strive to make me think that flying is a pleasure. I felt they had fallen behind over the last few years. But this year, they have come back strongly with their Singapore Suites, wifi expansion and regional lie flat Business Class beds. My only criticism  now is that I sometimes find their on board service a little robotic. My Score: 98% (92% last year).

2. Emirates are my second choice when flying. I admire their consistency, reliability, professionalism and amazing food across all classes. I think their Economy Class offering beats almost everybody. My Score: 99% (unchanged from last year)

a man holding a glass of wine

Emirates A380 Business Class

1. Qatar Airways makes it through another year as my overall favourite airline although in Economy I think Emirates is giving them a run for their money. In Business Class there is no comparison, however. The Q suites, Qatar Lounges and accompanying service leave every other Business Class for dead. My Score: 100% (unchanged from last year)

an airplane on the runway

Qatar A380 at Sydney Airport in March 2018.

So who are your favourite carriers?

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  1. I am kind of in agreement. The areas I would disagree are:
    1. I would not put Virgin in my top ten. Service is very robotic and the policy of similar looks (red lippie etc.) and all under 40 is just not on to me.
    2. Thai air has declined badly in the last 3 years.
    3. British airways is potentially in the top 10 but like Qantas suffers from the crew on duty at the time. Some have been fantastic.
    4. Air France provides a great in air experience in all levels of cabin.
    I totally agree that I will not ever fly : Ryanair, Air Asia, Tiger and United. I would also add Wow air, and Easy Jet.

  2. I can’t eat on airplanes so I’d be happy if they served tripe stew and took a few dollars off the airfare.
    I can’t watch movies, play video games or do anything else like that so my vote is ditch all of that and give me another few dollars off.
    I can’t read on airplanes so save the money on the inflight magazine, I’ll take the $3.
    I can’t sleep, so no need for pillows or recliners or blankets.

    The one thing I can do is listen to audiobooks. I guess if they let me leave my iPhone on for the entire flight I’d pay a few dollars for that.

  3. Thanks Ian for your feedback. You will note that my score for Thai has dropped over the last year. I have managed to avoid WOW but think easyjet are streaks ahead of Ryan and even United!

  4. Great List but I would not put Qantas or Emirates in the top 10 and I think that British Airways should be in the top 10 and this would be my list for 2023
    1. Singapore Airlines
    2. Cathay Pacific
    3. Thai Airways
    4. Virgin Australia (The Airline I Fly the Most)
    5. British Airways
    6. Hawaiian Airlines
    7. ANA All Nippon Airways
    8. Air New Zealand
    9. Qatar Airways
    10. Garuda Indonesia

    I totally agree that I will not ever fly: Ryanair or United but I would also add Aeroflot, Spirit and Tiger

  5. I am interested why you think BA and Virgin are better than Emirates? I find BA’s Business Class on board product and service distinctly shocking. Emirates are consistently excellent.
    In Economy, EK trumps BA hands down with better seats, entertainment, food and service.
    I have never had the pleasure of flying Hawaiian.
    I split my Australian flights between Qantas and Virgin. I find QF better in Business and I prefer VA in Economy. QF lounges are better.

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