Cape Town - If you’re after an enjoyable experience on your long-haul travels this year, you best stick to the recognized and celebrated best airlines for 2016.
These airlines, chosen by AirlineRatings.com, show the best carriers to suit every traveller’s needs. For passengers with children, Air New Zealand, should be your go-to airline. If you’re a foodie, opt for Qantas, and if you’re looking for luxury, your best bet will be Etihad Airways.
Winners for this year’s best low cost carriers in the world included SA’s kulula.com, along with world-class airline industry names like Qantas, Cathay Pacific Airways, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, Norwegian, Scoot, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.
ALSO SEE: kulula rated top airline in SA for the consecutive second year
What's remarkable in AirlineRating.com's list of the best for 2016, is that most of the awarded airlines hail from the southern hemisphere. While the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian carriers also feature, it's names like Air New Zealand and Qantas that pop up everywhere.
Interesting, Emirates does not feature in any of the top awarded carriers.
If you want to know the best of the best full service and low cost airlines from around the globe, check out this in-depth list of the best airlines for everything, for 2016.
Best Low Cost Airlines
There is no question that the Low Cost Airline market is the most competitive and also the most rapidly growing. Thus competition to be the best is a challenge of balancing product with low prices.
In this category, AirlineRatings.com announced SA airline kulula.com as the best Middle-East and African low cost airline. The winners are: Virgin America (The Americas), Scoot (Asia/Pacific), Kulula.com (Middle-East/Africa) and Norwegian (Europe).
The four airlines are standouts in their respective markets with clever innovations and they consistently deliver an excellent value proposition.
These airlines open new routes and make travel fun and achievable for millions who could previously not afford to fly.
SEE: Confessions of kulula cabin crew
Best First Class
This award has been won by relative newcomer Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways which has shaken the industry with its First Class offerings.
“Etihad’s commitment to excellence appears to know no bounds. The airline’s new First Class and Business Class offerings are quite stunning and have set the bar even higher in luxury travel,” says AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.
“In what is an incredible achievement in just over 12 years Etihad Airways has stamped itself not only as a major force in the airline industry but a trendsetter.”
SEE PICS: 4 First class airline cabins that are pretty much like mini hotels
Best Business Class
Singapore Airlines has won Best Business Class and the award adds to a string of accolades the airline has won for its product offerings over the years.
According to Thomas, Singapore Airlines’ revamped business class is really impressive. “It’s subtle, elegant, functional and very cosy.”
Best Premium Economy
Air New Zealand has won Best Premium Economy for the third year running for its innovation in designing its own premium economy seat.
The airline is continually innovating in all cabins and this has resulted in higher yields as passengers upgrade their travel experience with value propositions.
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Air New Zealand continues as a standout in delivering economy passenger options to match their budget. Its standard offering is excellent and if customers want to spend a little extra there are great options like the award winning Skycouch, which is perfect for a parent and two children.
Designed by Air New Zealand it offers passengers loads of options and has been an outstanding success.
Passengers also get wined and dined with Air New Zealand’s famous in-flight service and can pass the time connected to the airline’s state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system.
Qantas’ lounges continue to be a standout in this space and the airline has again won this category for a feature that has become as important as in-flight product to many discerning travellers.
“The Qantas domestic lounge has become an Australian air travel institution and the airline’s international offerings are also exceptional with new lounges in Hong Kong and Los Angeles raising the bar,” says Thomas.
Qantas Lounges not only provide complimentary food and beverages the airline was a leader in installing showers several decades ago. Importantly the airline’s lounges have robust broadband internet access that can handle demand – something lacking in many other airlines’ lounges.
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Another win for Qantas for the second year in a row. Its commitment not only to first class dining, but particularly to economy travel which makes up 90% of passengers is well ahead of the pack.
The airline has introduced an unprecedented four choices of main meal for economy passengers, a doubling in the size of meals, and the ability to order online ahead of the flight.
SEE: The Top 5 Airlines meals in the world
Best In-Flight Entertainment
Singapore Airlines was a pioneer with IFE, particularly for economy class. In the early 1990s all the airline’s seats were fitted with IFE, which the airline calls KrisWorld.
Now the airline is rolling out its Next Gen IFE which has a host of new features including: the ability to multi-task among the varied entertainment options; personalization where the system recommends content based on passengers’ preferences; 1 000 on-demand entertainment options and the ability to rate movies and see how others have rated these.
Best Domestic Class
In an era where domestic offerings are becoming leaner and leaner Qantas’s domestic product is a global standout and in many cases matches or exceeds others’ international product.
“There is no question Australians are the world’s most spoilt passengers with full meal service on all flights across its network,” says Thomas.
The airline offers complimentary beer and wine between capital cities after 16:00 on weekdays and on transcontinental flights from lunchtime daily.
Qantas has recently introduced lie-flat suites for business class passengers on its A330 flights, which operate most transcontinental services.
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Best New World Carrier
In its second year the Best New World Carrier award acknowledges an airline that makes game changing initiatives to redefine travel and meet ever-changing passenger demands.
Virgin Australia has again won this award for its achievement of morphing from Australia’s low fare pioneer as Virgin Blue to an airline that blends low cost efficiency, passion and enthusiasm with a truly first class product. Indeed a New World Carrier.
Best Cabin Crew
For the second year running, the Best Cabin Crew, award has also been won by Virgin Australia along with partner airline Virgin Atlantic.
“Both airlines’ cabin crew treat every passenger whether in row 1 or 31 as a special guest,” says Thomas.
“Their commitment to their passengers is outstanding and is a benchmark of what cabin service should be.”
SEE: Cabin Confessions – more crew and passengers share their stories
Best Long Haul Airlines
AirlineRatings.com Best Long Haul Airlines are: Etihad (Middle East/Africa), Cathay Pacific Airways (Asia/Pacific), Lufthansa (Europe) and Delta Air Lines (The Americas).
According to Thomas, these four long haul carriers are clear leaders in their region and beyond. “Each defines long haul travel and can be counted on to deliver the best possible product.”
Lufthansa, Etihad and Cathay Pacific Airways are synonymous with luxury in long haul travel and have launched new aircraft and interior designs to enhance global travel,” says Thomas.
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Overall Airline of the Year
For a third consecutive year, Air New Zealand wins airline of the year for its continuous passenger innovations, environmental commitment, record-breaking financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff that have cemented the airline an industry trendsetter.
AirlineRatings.com’s editorial team took special note of Air New Zealand’s comprehensive long haul offering which has two multi-award winning products in the Skycouch and Spaceseat for economy passengers.
“The innovation at Air New Zealand continues to dazzle and the airline has rolled out some stunning new technology including innovative tracking of unaccompanied children and a wonderful App to get you a prefect cup of coffee before your flight,” says Thomas.
“Put simply Air New Zealand remains the industry leader and a textbook case of what an airline should be in today’s intensely competitive market.”
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