The world of airline travel has changed dramatically over the years. From the first commercial flights in 1914 until now air travel has expanded on a massive scale creating larger jets, extensive routes and changes from more luxurious during the glamorous heyday of travel to the cattle car style coach class of today.
But perhaps what has changed the most has been the entertainment options. The first movie was shown on an amphibious flight around Chicago in 1921 but the first true commercial airline to offer an in-flight movie was between London and Paris in 1925 aboard Imperial Airways.
While travel on business jets gained ground to aid the business traveler, true in-flight entertainment did not gain favor until the 1960’s when the modern age of technology created a desire to do more than simply sit around talking and looking out the window. It wasn’t until 1991 that Virgin Airlines introduced individual screens on seat backs and the industry has never been the same.
After decades of declining ratings, airlines are now looking to mend the fences and re-create the feeling of privilege and the golden age of airline travel.
Here are a few of the most impressive airline travel available.
Best For Fighting Hunger
Turkish Airways beats all competition in this category. Catered by the Do&Co, they create spectacular, seasonally sourced food in the tradition of Turkish cuisine. Focused on fresh produce, the menus change with the season. For those with specialty food challenges they offer a bevy of meal options, even the somewhat new category of raw vegetarian.
Singapore Airlines reliably comes in at the top of the pack as well with its delicious Asian cuisine while Thai Airways is a close runner up featuring traditional curries and rice entrees. While the days of real cutlery and crystal in coach class may be long gone you can still count on not arriving at your destination hungry with these airlines.
Best Quirky Sense of Humor
In this category the Kiwi’s have it. Air New Zealand has jumped in the rankings in recent years. This is in part because it has taken the countries quirky sense of humor and parlayed that into creating a more fun flight experience.
This carrier has innovative options such as safety videos starring such iconic figures as Richard Simmons and Betty White, sleep masks proclaiming “Beware, I sleep walk”, and convertible sky couches in economy. Combined with excellent wine and fun flight attendants, Air New Zealand is a true joy to fly.
Best for Premium Economy
Virgin, another cheeky airline, known for being the first to introduce individual TV’s in seat-backs and amenity kits in all classes of service wins for the best premium economy seats in the industry. This level of seating is perfect for those wishing to score more comfort on long flights without requiring first class meals (and the first class price tag that goes along with them).
Featuring a delightful 38-inch pitch for added legroom, a welcome glass of champagne, and traditional British meals served on real china with actual cutlery, Virgin may make you believe that you have traveled back in time to the golden age of travel. Afternoon tea and crumpets simply puts the nail in the coffin to the discussion.
Best for Customer Service
Customer service. Or no service if you watch the news these days. For years the airline industry has been fighting a reputation of being uncaring in regards to customer service but recently airlines have been realizing that service is king. They cannot change the length of a flight or the challenges of dealing with security and long lines. However, they can change your mental state upon landing at your destination.
Not surprisingly, the top 10 International airlines for customer service tend to be Asian and Middle Eastern with Qatar Airlines topping the list. Their in-flight care is superb and their commitment to passenger service unmatched. Closely ranked airlines included some of our favorites already included such as Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airways, and Cathay Pacific.
Best Airline for a Splurge into First Class
You envy them. As you stand in line to cram yourself into your coach class seat you throw jealous glances at the elite lucky enough to sit in first and business class. You are even more envious of those on private business jets. For every traveler at some point in their life they may be at a place where they wish to truly splurge and experience the luxury of first class travel. But which airline to spend your hard earned dollars on?
While there are many who offer the lifestyles of the rich and famous, our pick is for a first class suite on Etihad Airlines. This airlines A380s feature one of the industry’s most buzzed about perks; the first class apartments. Leather loungers recline to twin size beds, 24” screen TVs offer the latest in entertainment. An individual mini-bar staves your thirst, and you can order their signature biryani with the dine-on-demand feature.
Best Budget Buy
At the very opposite end of the spectrum Air Asia is regularly ranked as the top low-cost airline travel worldwide. Headquartered in Malaysia, Air Asia has an extensive network of flights around Asia and the South Pacific. While the services offered might be few the staff and customer service are top notch.
The light meals offered are tasty but most of all passengers rave about the bang for their buck and are more than happy to eschew services in exchange for an inexpensive price tag.
The world of travel can be confusing and seem overly complicated. With thousands of search engines and hundreds of airlines available it isn’t always easy to find the perfect option for your needs.
Now is the time to branch out and try some favorites on for size and find your own top choices. As airlines continue to improve their comfort and customer service you may find yourself, once again, entering a golden age of airline travel.