Let's say you were going to fly to the other side of the world and it would be in coach. Which airline would you choose? Forget if the airline actually flies there or not. (If you want to pretend you could fly JetBlue to India, then go for it.) Which would you choose?
Took me 2 sec. to think of which airline:
1st Choice: Quantas
2nd Choice: Any other Non USA Carrier! The rest of the world seems to have gotten customer service & quality better then any of the US carriers.
Great question... I'd go with the Virgin family.
They seem to
A) love their work, and
B) love taking people from place to place.
It's one of the few airlines anymore that seems to actually care about the passenger's experience.
I asked them about it once, on a long-haul from Chicago to London... their answer was that it's better to keep the customer happy when you're going to be stuck for any number of hours in a small cramped tube in the sky together. :)
When I lived in Vietnam, I would fly between NYC and Ho Chi Minh City a couple times a year. Cathay Pacific was the best. They're efficient, have a pleasant flight staff and their long haul flights are well organized. You'll find snacks and drinks in the open kitchen, you're free to wander the cabin and they pretty much leave you alone between meals until landing. I really liked the NYC - Hong Kong - HCMC route.
I've heard good things about Singapore Airlines - notably they bump up early check in people to business or first class if they're over booked.
Emirates has the best economy service on long-haul flights that I've seen. The seats do seem to have gotten tighter in recent years, maybe that's just because the plane is always packed! But their service is great.
I have not flown Etihad, Qatar, Qantas, Singapore and Cathay Pacific yet, but I hear they are all great - I do need to try them at some point!
Air Canada is rubbish domestically or to the US for the most part but funny enough their long hauls are great.
Stay away from the US carriers like the plague. Unless you are in business it's not worth it. My experience with United has been very hit and miss.
British Airways transatlantic economy is meh, same with Lufthansa, but their premium economy products are ok.
Virgin Atlantic is fantastic - especially in Premium Economy. Don't be fooled by the name, this is much closer to a business class product (without the lie flat seat), but their economy is decent as well.
Air Canada has some beautiful new planes. Luftansa is very good, as well.
Qatar, Emirates or Cathay Pacific
My obvious choice would be Emirates. They are the best and are well connected to most of the continents. I had a flight on Emirates Airlines from Kuwait to New York. It was long, almost 14 hours but I enjoyed a lot during the journey. The food, the entertainment inside flight, the service - everything on Emirates spells class. Try once, i am sure you wont regret.
Definitely JetBlue. They don't have any flights longer than 5-6 hours, but if they did I'd want to fly them in coach class. Their seat pitch in coach is 34 inches, which is a good 2-3 inches more than the competition, and when you're 5'11" like me every inch helps. They also offer satellite TV, and their customer service, although behind most non-U.S. airlines, is better than all other U.S. airlines with the exception of Hawaiian and Virgin America. British Airways is also a good choice...their economy class product was recently overhauled, and now all seats on widebody aircraft have individual monitors, a wider array of programming, and the seats have been widened. The cabin service is quite good as well.
A good rule of thumb when travelling to/from the USA: avoid U.S. airlines. The product lags behind most international carriers and the employees are mostly a bunch of unionised robots who only care about their own benefits, do only the bare minimum of what their job description involves, and don't give a crap about the customer.
I flew from Panama to Amsterdam on KLM. It was a long flight but I enjoyed it due to their great customer service, good food and comfortable seats. The plane was roomy and clean too. I would definitely use their airline again if I had a long flight :)
My best experience ever was on Cathay Pacific (New York to Hong Kong). I can't say enough good things about them.
Air Canada has great new planes with comfortable coach seats.
For the long haul I am thinking of the following for service and comfort not necessarily in order
Asiana, Korean Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait Airways - sorry but I agree with the response of Maja Gray
"Any other Non USA Carrier! The rest of the world seems to have gotten customer service & quality better then any of the US carriers."
US carriers will be my last choice.
I like to eat, so Philippine Airlines and Asiana are two of my favs. You get two full meals plus a sandwich on only a 10 hour flight (from Hawaii to Asia). Plus extra goodies like warm socks and teeth brushing stuff. The pitch and width of economy seats in Asiana coach is impressive. Have yet to check out the heavy hitters Qatar, Emirates, etc.
You can't go wrong with any of the major middle east carrier. Though don't even go for Kuwait airlines.
Best of the cream - Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Bangkok airways.
Something you can go with - United airlines with amazing alliances and wifi on board on long distance flights help. I love British Airways because they provide free snacks to passenger on board. They have good entertainment too.
People love Virgin Atlantic but my 2 times was average. They served me good but they charged me for everything. It's annoying when you ask for extra snacks on long flight and you have to pay for it. I hope they have changed that.
There are some airlines which are under performing are usually the national carriers like Air France, KLM. National carriers are only good when you are travelling within the country. Jet Airways is pretty good when you are flying inside India but if I take flight anywhere else, its crappy.
I really hate low cost carriers - they end up costing the same in the end if you add it up. Except if you are travelling in South East Asia. What you really are saving up is for getting 3rd class treatment from air staff. If you are okay with that.
Despite what others might say my preferred airline has always been Air Canada.
Emirates is very good for long haul flights on coach. Amenities, entertainment and food are great. You won't think the airline is scrimping on cost like all the other airlines
For me it depends where I am going. Most Emirates flights stop over in Dubai and if that isn't too far out of the way, it's worth it for the extra service, even in coach. Plus you extend your Dubai stopover as long as you like for no additional airline expense - last time we stayed a week. I did get a tour of Emirates' business and first class once while in the air, and it is pretty impressive.
Second choice Singapore Airlines or Air New Zealand
I also will choose a non-US carrier if traveling outside the USA. The definition of service and quality is changing, and for some odd reason the US carriers are lagging way behind. It seems the more others like Emirates and Singapore improve their service, many of the US carriers decrease theirs.
Any airline using A380 planes, preferably Singapore Airlines as they have the best food and service.
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People will say Emirates but their service is actually pretty bad in coach. I much prefer Turkish, Cathay and Virgin.
United Airlines is the best for me if you like selecting what you want to watch on your own screen.
Allegiant is very clean and spacious if you like a clean aircraft, no fingerprints on windows etc... Yes l know they were in the news as are all the airlines and l flew 3 x on them this year alone non stop to Florida and Las Vegas. With all the hidden fees and charges and taxes, we get what we pay for. In my family we use flyer miles for upgrades.
Depends a bit on chosen route, mate. From west US to Asia, a route I fly several times each year, I suggest Singapore A380 service, Thai (LA - BKK is a great route, though they've discontinued the non-stop A340 flight). Air New Zealand to Auckland is a gas as is any Quantas trip. Heading east to Europe, I chose Lufthansa, echoing what many below have stated. US carriers, for whom capital is king, are to be avoided, unless the fare is just to good to be true. All Gulf area carriers excel; Emirates is my personal favorite in the lot. Wheels up. Go. Cheers DJW
I just took Air NZ from LAX to Heathrow. And from there to Berlin on British Airways. Same thing back. I heard very good things about Air New Zealand, and they certainly were true. Although British Airways was fine, it was very clear that NZ was superior. I hope to fly with them again. Free unlimited beer in coach. Not bad.
Been in coach overseas, amazing flight and loved bathrooms were on lower level and had open snack bar entire flight.
Service is good, atmosphere is relaxed and best choice of music movies and food.
As an Economy flyer, I'm going to go with Qatar and Emirates. Newer planes, more leg space, excellent global entertainment options and pretty consistently good service. And their hubs (Dubai & Doha) are modern, massive and very good indeed.
I find most American and European airlines awful for long haul flights. So no BA, AF, Delta, Lufthansa et al.
I've always wanted to fly on one of the Emirates planes, they always look so luxurious or Thai because I heard they have great food. Although I don't know if the airline matters as much as the plane itself, just a nice roomy jet, no middle seat!
Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines all specialise in long haul. I'd visit Seat Guru to look at the aircraft flying a specific route and, if comfort in economy is your primary objective, I'd look for airlines using the Airbus A380 or similar large jet. Having flown from Melbourne to London a couple of times with Qantas on the A380 I can report it's a much more comfortable experience in the 'cheap seats'. The noise is reduced and the space is adequate, even for my husband who's rather tall.
Having said that, I've also flown budget carriers for significant flights and while the leg room is pretty tight, it's manageable. Our most recent flights Melbourne-Tokyo (10 hours) on Jetstar were perfectly acceptable, although admittedly the flight wasn't full and we were able to get two seats each to be able to spread out a bit.
One airline I wouldn't recommend for economy long haul is Cathay Pacific. The seats in some jets have a very uncomfortable shape. I've always felt much the worse for wear after the 12-13 hour trip between Hong Kong and Paris.
Singapore Airlines all the way. They have never let me down, are very consistent in service, have top notch aircraft with the latest seat and entertainment technology. Food & service are exceptional and they usually aren't that much more expensive than everyone else. It's a no brainer for me.
Domestic flight...JetBlue is the only acceptable airline, but they have limited routes.
International flight...Singapore Air or Emirates for comfort, Lufthansa for punctuality
Swiss or British Airlines, for sure. All economy experiences are not the same!