The world’s top-rated airlines offer unparalleled service and features, like rewarding frequent flyer programs, delicious food, entertainment, WiFi & more.
Flying internationally can be a great experience, or it can be a nightmare. And the main deciding factor on what kind of flight you have is the airline you choose.
The airlines that offer cheap rates and a hundred stopovers are usually the airlines that provide a less-than-enjoyable flying experience. Limited luggage, no legroom, minimal entertainment options (if any), bad food (if any), and rude flight attendants are more the norm than the exception when you buy cheap airfare.
On the other hand, airlines that offer standard, market value airfares usually come with all the amenities necessary to create a pleasant flying experience. If you’re someone who flies frequently for business or pleasure, having an enjoyable flight experience is a necessity, not a luxury. Especially when you fly for business, you need a comfortable flight to ensure that you alight from the plane feeling fresh and refreshed.
If you’re someone who flies every once in a while, you may be able to put up with rudeness and bad food, but let’s be honest—wouldn’t you rather have helpful flight attendants, delicious food, a variety of entertainment and connectivity options, and spacious cabins?
Read on to find out why these features can make all the difference between a great flying experience and a disastrous one
Friendly Flight Attendants
You can be sitting in a First Class cabin, sipping Chardonnay and awaiting your meal of filet mignon, but if your flight attendant is rude or unhelpful, it can ruin your entire flight. Of course, most regular flyers don’t need their flight attendants too much—receiving a meal, getting a drink, and buying duty-free items might be the most contact you have with them over the course of the flight.
However, if you’re someone who has health issues and needs special assistance, or if you’re traveling with children, you may rely more heavily on flight attendants than others. In these situations, a happy and friendly crew is a must-have. Airlines like Singapore, Emirates, All Nippon Airways, and Cathay Pacific Airways are known for their friendly and helpful flight attendants (though obviously, nothing is guaranteed).
If you’re flying Economy on any airline, your legroom will be limited. That’s just the nature of planes and the nature of economy. (Although Garuda Indonesia’s Economy Class is surprisingly roomy.) If you’re a person who needs legroom, Business or First Class are better options.
If you can’t afford those, check out airlines that offer Economy Plus or Premium seating; it’s a relatively new cabin class that offers slightly more room than plain Economy but less than Business Class. Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, ANA, Cathay Pacific Airlines, EVA Air, and Qantas all offer Economy Plus or Premium cabins, and they may be worthwhile for you to look into.
If Economy Premium is also out of your price range, try this: Book Economy but ask for a seat with extra legroom. These seats usually cost more than other Economy seats but are still less than Economy Premium. That way, you save money but still get to stretch your legs.
Frequent Flyer Programs
If you only fly once in a blue moon, the frequent flyer program of any given airline won’t make much of a difference to you. If you do fly frequently, however, it definitely pays to choose your favorite airline based on the frequent flyer rewards. Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Singapore are well-known for their rewarding frequent flyer programs, although many other top airlines also make flying with them worth your while.
These programs reward you with miles when you fly and when you use certain credit cards. The miles can quickly accumulate into free flights, and who doesn’t love free flights?
If you fly for work, your company will probably choose a frequent flyer program for businesses, and in that case, the decision is out of your hands and you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
When flying internationally, using an airline that offers a varied entertainment package is important. After all, 10-15 hours is a long time to spend on a plane with not much to do, and how much can you read and sleep on a plane?
When you choose a cheap airline, the entertainment options are limited. A few movies, some music, and that’s about it. In some cases, there is a large screen with movies at the front of the cabin; in other cases, there’s no screen.
When you fly a top-rated airline, however, the basic package, even in Economy, comes with a personal screen on the back of the seat in from of you, a variety of movies and TV shows to choose from, different music channels, games, and WiFi with various pricing packages.
When you fly Business or First Class, you have even more entertainment options. Of course, in Business and First Class, you may actually have a shot at sleeping more than a couple of hours.
Flying for Business
People who fly internationally for business know: There’s nothing more important than getting as much sleep as you can on the plane. Because the second you land, you’re not going to lounge at the beach; you’re going to meetings, clients, conferences, and more. You need to look good and feel rested.
When you fly Economy, your chances for this are much lower. Flying Business or First Class, on the other hand, can help you get the rest you need so you’re ready and prepared to take care of business.
Is the Expense of Flying High Quality Airlines Worth It?
When you opt to fly international with a top-rated airline as opposed to a lower quality airline, the pricetag is obviously higher. In some cases, it’s a few hundred dollars extra. In others, it’s a few thousand.
Is the expense worth it?
Only you can answer that.
If you and a couple of friends are backpacking across Europe for the summer after college, saving a few hundred dollars might be more important to you than having a comfortable flying experience. Or if you’re going on a short international flight, like from London to Prague ( 3 hours), you may also be willing to forgo certain amenities.
However, if you fly for business and need your rest, there’s no question that the expense of flying a top-rated airline is worth it (especially if your company is paying for it). Flying with young children is another situation in which the amenities of a high quality airline can be a lifesaver; amenities like friendly flight attendants, a large luggage allowance, and lots of entertainment options. People who have health issues will also do much better flying a high quality airline.
Whatever your situation is, it’s up to you to assess if the cost is worth the service. And whether you decide to go for high quality or low cost, make sure to find out exactly what you’re getting with whichever airline you choose.