Eventually it had to write this post as what’s a travel life blog without a personal view on airlines, right? I never calculated how many miles I flew or how many hours I spent on board of an aircraft but once I sat in the cockpit. It was the most amazing experience ever. During a stopover in Turkey when the plane was parking at the gate the nice Italian pilot let me sit in his seat and explained some of the buttons. Man… best day ever 😀
Similar to airports over the time I came up with my criteria to grade airlines. As I mostly fly economy, the grading is based on things like comfortable seats with normal leg space. Decent food, the entertainment system having interesting shows and movies. Also, is the online booking system easy to use, flights on schedule or the flight attendants are open and friendly and not only do their jobs. Plus, all the little things which make the passengers feel welcome, like cold face towels or socks and general flight comfort. With all that in mind my list of best and worst airlines is as follows.
Top 3 best airlines
There are some similarities to the best airports… coincidence, don’t think so!
1. Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Similar to Changi airport, Singapore Airlines are just amazing. Flew with them on shorter and longer flights and every time the flight was a pleasure. The route from Singapore to Sydney was especially memorable as it was the first time I flew on board the Airbus A380. The take-off felt a bit heavy like a cow trying to jump, however the interior and the seats were very comfortable… no neck pain from falling asleep suddenly on the window. Regardless if long or short flight on board of SQ the service is always great. Cold refreshing towels to begin with, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste in a small bag and a menu card. Hey, we are talking about economy class here. The food is always tasty, wine is decent and you can even get a very nice Singapore sling. The best thing however are the flight attendants. Not only helpful but they have the best uniforms ever. Big wow! If that’s how the economy class looks, I wonder how business or first class is… maybe one day I get to experience that.
2. Qatar Airways (QR)
Very reliable when traveling during covid. Flew with them eight times this year and no delays, flight reschedules or cancellations. Yes, the tickets for QR are a bit more expensive than other airlines nowadays but the comfort of your flight being on schedule is totally worth the extra 50 Euros. I love the interior of Qatar aircrafts. It’s kept in a nice shade of purple with works very calming on me after all the airport hustle. Love the economy class blankets. They are made out of a soft fabric and are very warm. Shouldn’t be saying that as it’s highly inappropriate but once I took one back home. Now I cover myself with it when I’m taking a nap 😀
Maybe QR doesn’t hand out cold towels for the start but they give you a covid prevention kit with a face mask, hand sanitiser and rubber gloves. Very thoughtful of them. When it comes to food and drinks on board it’s very decent.
There are always three food options: chicken, beef or vegetarian and they make quite a nice gin and tonic where you actually can taste the gin! The flight attendants are super nice and have a sunshine attitude. Remember when I boarded the flight from Doha to Warsaw. Tired as hell after having a three-hour stopover returning from Zanzibar. There was this flight attendant who was so incredibly energetic at 8 am in the morning. His sunshine attitude was better than coffee, I immediately felt less tired 🙂
3. Lufthansa (LH)
Yes, Lufthansa. It never happened to me that a LH flight was cancelled or delayed… OK once but that was caused by fog at Kraków airport. It also happened to me many times that the service on board Lufthansa flights was excellent and the flight attendants extremely helpful. One time at Dusseldorf airport after leaving the plane and reaching the transit area I noticed that I left my phone on board. Went to the LH service desk and said that there has been a tragedy as I forgot my phone and probably it’s still in the seat pocket. The nice lady sent somebody to get it.
Fun fact before my phone could be handed over to me the Lady asked, how do I know that this is your phone. I said, when you open the music library the last playing piece is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook, chapter 10 😀
Another time when I was flying back to Hong Kong I got into a conversation with one of the flight attendants’ and she was so impressed that somebody out of Germany can speak so good German she brought me wine and chocolates from the business class. On top of that I got a really cool Lufthansa pen. Besides, everything is correct when flying with Lufthansa. Easy booking system, quite comfortable seats and beer during breakfast service! Very much thumbs up.
Top 3 worst airlines
1. Lot Polish Airlines (LO)
Yeah, the Polish national airline is dreadful. Whenever I have the choice to get a cheaper flight with LOT or pay 100 Euros more for Lufthansa, I go for Lufthansa. LOT doesn’t have that many connections from Warsaw airport. Direct flights to US and majority of Europe capitals. They used to have direct connections to Japan and South Korea but not sure if that’s still the case. Flew with LOT a couple of times but don’t do that anymore. Reason for it is simple… no free alcohol in economy class. Come on, booze during dinner or lunch is standard in other airlines but LOT is too much of a cheapskate to do it. Also I don’t feel welcome on board of LOT airlines. The flight attendants give the impression that they do the job as it’s some form of punishment. On the flight from Warsaw to Chicago I pushed the service button and got yelled at for it. Basically flying LOT economy class feels like flying a low cost airline only for a much higher price. Warsaw airport YES, LOT airlines NO.
2. Ryanair (FR)
I absolutely hate that airline. Yes, it is a low cost airline so what do you expect? Red carpet treatment? No, it’s the fact that Ryanair is like a cheap prostitute that you can find on the dodgiest corner of a city. It does the job but that’s it… no cuddle after unless you pay for it. It’s obvious that in low cost airlines you have to pay extra for luggage or food but Ryanair has taken it to the extreme. You even have an extra charge when you pay with a credit card for the tickets. Yes, they do have a variety of connections however FR flies to airports which sometimes are very far away from the city you want to visit. Paris for example. Ryanair flies to Beauvais airport, which is halfway between Paris and Amiens. To get to one of those cities it’s nearly a two-hour journey on public transport. Firstly, you spend nearly two hours on a flight and then two more hours on a train… not very efficient if you wanna do a quick city break.
To fly Ryanair, I need to be very desperate and I pick it only when there is no other option left. To be frank I’d rather fly a normal airline with a stopover somewhere in Europe as with Ryanair… reason? After some calculations, the price and duration are similar.
3. KLM (KL)
Dutch Royal airlines pissed me off royally at the beginning of this year. I booked a ticket to Zanzibar over Amsterdam. All nice and good, only four weeks before the trip I was receiving daily emails from KLM that my flight was rescheduled, cancelled, rebooked etc. Eventually I had enough and requested a full refund. With the refund money I bought a Qatar Airways ticket. It was the second time KLM played a flight cancelled trick on me. First time it was in Dubai. After arriving at the airport I was told – sorry your flight has been cancelled. Super, good that you let me know over email or text message KLM. Aside from the schedule unreliability KLM is not bad. Seats are wide and the leg space is decent. Food and wine are not bad. Generally, this airline would be much higher in my ranking if it wasn’t for the flight uncertainty.
A human approach
There are two airlines which are very close to my heart as flying with them always makes me feel good.
1. Finnair (AY)
Had an episode when I was flying quite often with Finnair as they had good and cheap connections to Asia. What I liked most about AY is that the flights were never full and most of the time I could find an unoccupied row with two empty seats. The flight attendants also didn’t make a big fuss if you wanted to have extra wine after dinner service. On the flight from Helsinki to Delhi I had like four or five of those little wine bottles. I fell asleep and woke up for breakfast. Also no neck or back pain from sleeping in a seated position. Generally, I always felt very comfortable on board of Finnair aircrafts. Flights were always on time, sometimes even ahead of schedule, the entertainment system was a bit behind but watching classics was also fine to kill the time. Everything was how it should be. On the flight from Beijing to Helsinki when the plane was being de-iced one very handsome flight attendant told me about his passion for hockey and ice fishing and how does the crew actually survive and get some rest during long haul flights. During breakfast service the same attendant didn’t have anything against giving me an additional yoghurt 😉 An airline with a very human approach towards passengers.
2. Air Asia (AK)
The only low cost airline that I value very much. Yes, there is no food or drinks on board unless you buy them yourself. No blankets or pillows and you can forget about wet cold towels as the greeting. However, Air Asia, despite being a low cost airline, treats their passengers with dignity. The flight is always on time, the flight attendants are super nice and the pilots experienced. On the flight from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur a thunderstorm caught us. Ammmm the descent felt a bit like a rollercoaster, plus the guy in the seat next to me was listening to Guns N’ Roses on his headset so loud that I could literally hear Knocking on Heaven’s Door. Fun soundtrack for such situation 😛 The landing on the other hand was so extremely smooth that I didn’t even notice when the wheels touched the ground. Also during my Borneo adventure I had lots of flights booked with Air Asia and wanted to pay for my checked in luggage at the counter every time. The AK service staff asked how many flights I have? The answer was, four. Then I got the advice to buy the checked in luggage online for my next flights as it will be way cheaper than to pay at the counter every time. How nice of them! Can’t imagine somebody from Ryanair saying that.
Was thinking how to conclude the post but the best way to end is to say -> up up and away!