As a travel blogger who makes a living off writing about the best of the best on offer around the world by way of travel experiences, it is with an huge leap of faith that I go ahead and write this post that will inevitably mean that I will never be invited by the likes of Air Canada to advertise their product. Naming and shaming airlines isn’t something bloggers usually do… but that’s just too bad, because I’d rather be honest and lose a potential job than lie to you and lose the trust of my readers.
So here goes nothin’….. A brutal(ly honest) recount of airlines I love and those I love to hate.
Let’s kick things off with a budget airline I have flown with on a few occasions a couple of years ago. For the price that you pay, Air Asia offer a pretty good product. This is a no-frills airline so you will have to pay extra for anything beyond your base ticket, but you do save a lot of money flying with them and they have a lot of destinations on their books throughout Asia. All in all, they offer a fair product for a very fair price.
As I alluded to in the opening of this blog post, I cannot say I would ever again voluntarily fly with Air Canada. I actually especially booked this flight with Air Canada to try their product on a long-haul journey from New York JFK to Buenos Aires, heading North via Toronto and Santiago. The flight was not the cheapest option, so I must have been keen to try Air Canada if I was willing to go North first before making my way down to Latin America. I’ll cut straight to the chase — the service I encountered on two of these flights was absolutely appalling to the point where I was in tears by the way the airline staff treated me. I had ordered a vegetarian meal (or so I thought) – but was abruptly told I hadn’t done so (???) and told by the air hostess “you can eat meat like everyone else or nothing at all – up to you”. Talk. About. Rude. I was flying with Air Canada for over 30 hours on this journey and she honestly had the nerve to tell me I could eat meat or starve? Having been a vegetarian for over 8 years, this was simply not an option. I later asked for her name so I could follow up with the airline afterwards and was denied the privilege. When asked if this was company policy she flatly replied “no. personal choice. I’m not giving you my name.” Well, that was clearly because she knew she was in the wrong. The second leg of my journey from Santiago to Buenos Aires I encountered a second rude air hostess – talk about a miserable flight. After flying internationally for a decade and having taken hundreds of flights in the past year, these two staff members from Air Canada were the ONLY bad encounters I have had.
Needless to say – never again.
Back on a positive note, I really love Air France. Then again, I really love the French so perhaps I more or less enjoy the nature of the air hostess’ and top service I have always encountered with this airline. Oh and of course, the French inspired menu – no one does a breakfast quite like the French.
Cathay Pacific are one of my favourite airlines, specifically for their economy product. I used to fly with them often on the route from Melbourne to Europe, always stopping over in Hong Kong. Sadly I haven’t been back in the region much lately, but otherwise I would fly with them more often if given the chance. The staff are some of the most accommodating you will find in the airline industry, always very pleasant and polite.
Emirates – WOW FAVOURITE!
Emirates are what Ferrari’s are to the car loving world, to the airline geek world. I can say with 100% certainty that the Emirates product in both Economy and Business has been my favourite I have encountered so far. Recently I splurged and upgraded my ticket to Business for my trip from Hong Kong to Cape Town via Dubai. The Business Class on the A380 is in my opinion, one of the best travel experiences you can enjoy. The product itself is what was so enjoyable, and I have always found the Emirates staff to be polite and welcoming, but I haven’t ever encountered any service above and beyond (like I have with Qantas staff in particular). Nonetheless, this is still my favourite airline and I am constantly spending extra hours in the air just so I can fly with them.
I want to love Etihad – but I can’t just yet. My first experience with them was a shocker (7 hours of lost luggage), but I’m willing to give them another chance as I’ve heard great things, as well as the fact that this is still a very new airline.
I haven’t flown with them for a few years now, but have always enjoyed the Finnair product. Just beware of Helsinki airport – that place is a money cruncher!
It may come as a surprise to you, but I am actually very fond of Jetstar – the budget sister company of Qantas. The staff are very laid back, friendly, and always very cheery. The planes are 90% of the time new and clean, and I think if you were to criticise this airline you would be picking at tiny faults that are completely irrelevant when compared to some of the other products out there. The only criticism I would have is the ongoing delays – are Jetstar flights ever taking off on time!?
It’s the mature service on Qantas flights that make them such a joy to travel with. And yes, by mature I mean that the flight attendants are almost always older, as Qantas makes a conscious effort to employ staff with ample experience. My only complaint would be the lack of television screens on a few long-haul flights over the years. I last flew with Qantas in January when flying from Melbourne to London
I flew with Qatar from Budapest to Singapore return and thoroughly enjoyed the overall experience. My only regret is that I didn’t stop overnight in Qatar, so I will definitely have to return! The service on board was a big highlight, as well as the comfort and quality of the product on offer.
Just when we were all getting accustomed to complaining about RyanAir, they come out and waive all the silly fees and restrictions they have been so heavily imposing for the past how many ever years. For a budget airline who will get you from major European destinations for a fraction of the price of other airlines, I have to say that RyanAir are pretty passable in my books. Sure, you will be counting down the minutes til you land as soon as you board the in the air ad campaign – I mean plane – but regardless, it’s a huge money saver.
I’m neither here nor there with this airline. The product is fine, the service is fine, the food is fine, and the overall verdict is fine.
I didn’t mind TAP Portugal aside from the fact they lost my luggage for two days in Africa, which was quite a spanner in the works at the time. Aside from that the experience was fine but nothing to rave about.
I’m still on the fence about Turkish Airlines. There flights are always fairly cheap in comparative terms so I have flown with them a few times, however their product hasn’t really stood out either. I must say, however, that they do a mean homemade lemonade! Mmm mmm!
This section should really say “US Airways, American Airlines, and Delta” – because I think collectively the airlines of the United States are pretty dismal in comparison to all the other airlines out there on offer. Truth be told, I avoid each of these airlines like the plague – though if I had to pick one, I would say Delta is my preferred out of these three. Bonus points for in-flight wi-fi to all three.
I really really really love Virgin Atlantic – enough to make me want to live in either London or New York just so I can cross the Atlantic with this airline frequently. I’ve tried both their economy and upper class options, and I must say both are highly enjoyable. The lie flat beds in upper class are hard to pass up, however, and I would certainly recommend splashing out a little extra cash to try it at least once in your lifetime.
This budget airline will take you where RyanAir and Easyjet won’t – over into the depths of Eastern Europe (actually one of my favourite areas in the world). It’s super cheap, reliable, and will get you to the more remote off-the-beaten-track European locations.
So there you have it! Now over to you – what is your all time favourite airline and your worst experience with an airline? Let’s open up the conversation and see who claims the WOW airline of the year!?