Given that I’ve flown much of my life I thought I’d write this blog about my favorite airlines.
The airline business has changed so much in my lifetime that it has become almost unrecognisable.
So much worse in some ways and so much more to offer in others.
The one thing that is gone for sure is the glamour of travel that existed in the past.
When I was a kid, it was rare that an airplane was full, the seats in economy were huge compared today.
We had so much leg room, and hot meals, economy was luxury, because travel was a luxury.
Those were the days when companies existed to provide services to people.
Of course profits were important because without them the airline would cease operations.
Today it is different, airlines are companies that are about making money at all costs for shareholders.
The transportation of passengers has become what they do to maximise profits as much as possible.
And because of this the whole game has changed.
Airplanes have become cramped places where it is now a chore to travel on, especially in the US.
This is particularly true of US carriers, and to a lesser extent airlines from other countries.
Carriers are trying to attract the premium class flyers while squeezing as many people into economy class.
Of course it is the premium customer who allows the airlines to make the biggest profits.
In fact the premium economy section of an aircraft is the most profitable per square foot.
This is why more and more airlines are providing a premium economy product.
A lot of money goes into the first and business class cabins as the airlines compete fiercely.
With business class fast becoming the new first class, and premium economy becoming the new middle product.
Of course a nice premium cabin is important for people who spend so much money on flying in the front of the plane.
Loyalty programs have become a way for the airlines to hold on to their best customers.
Providing perks to their most loyal customers in terms of spend help the carriers retain passengers.
The trouble is that in their haste to get money immediately, these companies are stepping all over themselves with offers.
You can apply for credit cards that will give you loyalty perks, and other freebies.
Rental car companies to hotel chains will offer perks and miles on the airlines.
Basically if you are willing to pay extra you can get the most exclusive services the carrier offers.
I have been a frequent flyer of the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and have flown millions of miles with them.
I have gained lifetime status with them which continues to give me many benefits.
But now that I don’t fly as much, they dropped me from their highest tier like a hot potato.
I can no longer access the highest level of benefits or get the best service from them.
My customer service has been downgraded, and the best perks revoked.
But if I were to pay for premium tickets then all those benefits would be mine again.
It has really become all about the money, and less about what you get as a frequent flyer.
But American has gone downhill since being acquired by US Airways and merging in 2013.
It now offers basic economy offering even fewer benefits than Southwest Airlines, the low cost carrier.
I have talked to so many disgruntled American Airlines employees since the merger, they have seen their company dip.
It’s a shame given it was one of the great airlines out there.
A huge thing for me when flying or dealing with any company really is the service they provide.
When you have good flight attendants on a flight it makes all the difference to your entire trip.
Now, for my favorite airlines.
I think the best service I have ever had on a flight was on Cathay Pacific when flying to Hong Kong.
The reason for this is that the service has always been outstanding, the food amazing and the cabin comfortable and modern.
Cathay lounges in Hong Kong are some of the best I’ve experienced.
Singapore Airlines has always provided consitantly good service and they have amazing premium cabins.
Japan Airlines is another favorite of mine when flying to and from Japan.
Qatar quickly became one of my favorite airlines and is pretty outstanding and their Qsuite product in business call is in a league of its own.
Emirates is a good one to try, especially in first or business class where service is stellar and lounges fantastic.
Etihad is also good but they have pared back on their service over the years, and are not as luxurious as they once were.
Although I did shower on an etihad flight once, I didn’t really need a shower but had to do it!
Virgin Atlantic is a good contender in many ways, but their top product, Upper Class, is not as solid as it looks.
They have great lounges and the cool factor presented to their passengers is off the charts.
I hear great things about Lufthansa especially in the premium cabins, but I have not flown them in many years.
Long ago British Airways would have been on my list, but sadly BA has gone to hell and is more like a low cost carrier.
Even first class on BA pales in comparison to many other carriers out there these days.
Of course I have not flown all airlines in the world so only have the ones I have flown to compare against.
Some airlines have very good business or first class and terrible economy, and the other way around.
Recently I was impressed with Oman Air business class, on a short three hour flight to Oman.
I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasently surprised.
Royal Jordanian has a pretty solid economy that has a lot to offer passengers.
In the current environment it is very important to find the best alliance of airlines and to stick with them.
Cathay Pacific is part of Oneworld which American Airlines also belongs to.
Royal Jordanian is part of this group as well, and given that I am in Amman these days it is convenient.
Even though they say Delta is the best in the States these days, their frequent flyer program is not as convenient for me.
Other than flying private I have not had better service or enjoyed a trip more.
So those are my favorite airlines, which are yours?