Fun Friday: Favorite Airline

I'm going to fly to LA today. I would normally fly United because of miles/upgrades but the Gotham Gal booked this flight and we are going Virgin. I find flying on Virgin like going to a nightclub because of the lighting and I avoid it as a result.

It got me thinking about airlines in general. You hear people complain all the time about airlines but you don't hear that many folks talk about airlines they love. As I have some long flights to asia and other far flung parts of the world in my future, I figured it would be fun to talk about the best airlines in the world, instead of the worst.

The best airlines I've flown on regularly are British Airways and Lufthansa. If it were up to me, I would fly the international airlines over the US airlines every day of the week.

How about you?


Comments (Archived):

  1. Robin Wauters

    Turkish Airlines. No competition in Europe. And I fly a lot within Europe.

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      Interesting. My parents fly Turkish Toronto-Istanabul-Beirut and they have been happy for sometime. It has replaced BA as their primary choice of airline to the Middle East

    2. Luke Chamberlin

      Turkish Airlines is great.

    3. fredwilson

      that’s the second shoutout for Turkish Air in this thread. it’s great to know

      1. William Mougayar

        @awaldstein is in Turkey this week. Maybe he has taken it, I’m not sure.

      2. awaldstein

        I flew Turkish Airlines from Heathrow to Istanbul.Coach with full meals, let room.Way better than BA.

        1. fredwilson

          how are you enjoying turkey?

          1. awaldstein

            Very short trip with a group of wine blogger buddies, most of whom I met online BTW, now real friends that we travel together.Turkish wine? Struggling with identity and on the wrong side of the teetering point of choosing international varieties rather then some interesting (unpronounceable) indigenous grapes.Place…interesting but too quick a trip to get into it in detail. Oddity that jumps out at you is that the streets of the cities are full of stray cats (all really healthy and friendly) in packs. I’m a cat lover…so to me this is goodness.Biggest disappointment is that I suppose to go to Republic of Georgia but had to cancel due to some business concerns in the aftermath of Sandy.Oh well! I will get them to sponsor me another time.

          2. fredwilson

            i have to go there soon

          3. awaldstein

            Sat next to a guy who owned a web design house at dinner. Really significant startup scene in Istanbul as you of course know.When I used to blog about Facebook during the early growth stages, Turkey was always a huge area for expansion and use. Social nets very much engrained in the net natives.Have a good trip.

          4. kenberger

            we went to Ukraine and Georgia last year, and I was very excited to try the Georgian wine as it’s always presented as having an identical climate to Italy and other similarities.we were disappointed however– the stuff is just universally too sweet.

          5. awaldstein

            I know Georgian wine a little bit.Ancient wine culture (8K years old), with a focus on the use of Kviri (amphora pots).At a turning point with the good news is that they are moving more towards indigenous varieties.Wine is generally a bit rough, very tannic but interests me personally.I’m still going to go back and visit.

          6. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Great country/people/food. Fascinating place. Only been once but hope to go again.

        2. ShanaC

          how is turkey

          1. jason wright


        3. Fernando Gutierrez

          How is wine over there?

  2. joemedved

    If you’re headed to Tokyo, All Nippon Airways out of NYC is highly tolerable.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s how I flew to Tokyo about ten years ago. they had internet on the plane which i don’t recall how it was provisioned. it was awesome.

      1. kenberger

        here’s the quick deal on airline wifi (I did a bunch of consulting work for VC’s and service providers about 10 years ago):Satellite was always expensive and the early offerings mostly died out quickly, especially as they came out during a bad recession.Singapore and Emirates use current satellite services, which are expensive but subsidized by Inmarsat for now.There are a couple new satellite services that are coming to planes in a year or 2 and should make the cost drop and QoS increase.gogo is actually ground-based, beaming its bandwidth from the ground up. that’s the cheapest way right now in the US, but of course only works over the 48 states.

  3. Ryan Frew

    Going West (domestic): FrontierRegular: Continental/UnitedIn Europe: Ryanair. It’s terrible. But you can’t beat a three hour flight for 25 euro.

  4. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I used to fly all the time, every week. Am a dull little home-office bod, nowadays.Anyway, Lufthansa – short-haul and long-haul, they were always great. Closely followed by (now defunct) Lauda Air.

  5. Carlos N Velez/Lacerta Bio

    BA is my favorite. I try to book BA whenever I fly to the UK.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      This is a weird recurring theme – BA being liked abroad – most Brits are pretty apathetic to BA. Their internal (UK) flights are certainly pretty poor, as is their general short haul European service. When I flew transatlantic I often used them and must say it was a lot better – and got lots of cool upgrades. Best upgrade period when I also flew Virgin and switched between the 2 – I was always getting upgrades from both – often to 1st class – transpired years later it was the period when BA and Virgin were spying on one another’s business travellers and to so entice them away they’d often upgrade them when on their airline, lol…No upgrades on my village bus service. Boooo 😉

      1. Geekonomicon

        I prefer British Airways to any of the cheaper alternatives for UK internal flights, because although you will pay less for the ticket, by the time you’ve added on credit card payment charges (thank you, Ryanair, EasyJet), extra baggage charges and the cost of travelling to Luton/Standstead/Gatwick, it ends up costing about the same as flying with BA from Heathrow.

  6. Avi Deitcher

    I used to fly USA to London and Asia a ton. I loved BA, especially business class (I was bumped up to First sometimes with them, what a way to fly!).I also had very good experiences on Qantas and Cathay Pacific, but Singapore service was pure heaven.Nowadays I mainly fly United – they fly Newark-Tel Aviv, which is my primary route – but I really wonder why the domestic US airlines cannot have airplanes and service like the Europeans or the Asians?

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Tel Aviv – good memories – is security at the airport as ‘interesting’ as it ever was?

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Love to have you again! Tell me when you will be in (and hopefully I won’t be Stateside that week).TLV used to have interesting security. After a decade of TSA shenanigans (security theater?), TLV security appears so sane it is almost funny, and they haven’t changed (outwardly) that much.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Lol, cool – my first few times in/out through Ben Gurion fascinated me – and this was long before 9/11 so I was not at all accustomed to such intense security processes – even when I went to/from Belfast at the peak of the IRA troubles.Was always worth it, though – such a wonderful place/people – I will for sure let you know if/when I am back in TA, Avi – would be great to meet up there. Shalom!

          1. Avi Deitcher

            It would be my pleasure!

        2. ShanaC

          TLV security is usually guys just out of army with some training. Always made for a unique experience if you are a good looking female.Or a flirt (insert devil grinned smiley here)

          1. John Clyman

            Hah, that reminds me of a funny moment clearing security at Copenhagen. I’d picked up a rather sizable stock of Pierre Marcolini chocolates in Brussels to distribute to friends at home, and as they went through the X-ray machine, the agent gave me a coquettish look and said, “Hmm, those things in the boxes look just like bombs, I might have to confiscate them for closer evaluation”.I wasn’t sure whether to be more surprised by encountering flirting under such completely unexpected circumstances, or by the fact that she literally uttered the word “bomb”, even as a joke, without causing a stir. Somehow I don’t think that would go over so well here in the States!

          2. Avi Deitcher

            True, but the difference is (a) real training, (b) the requirement of intelligence (I don’t mean as in CIA, but as in “use your head”, (c) the rapid firing. These guys are not unionized. One mistake, out the door.And definitely for the flirting. A smile goes a very long way…

    2. fredwilson

      yeah, that’s the question isn’t it?

  7. Simon de la Rouviere

    I like to judge airlines by how good their entertainment systems are on long-haul flights. Some of them commit the worst user experiences ever. It’s just really really bad.The best one I’ve used has been Emirates. High definition, great selection, fast, easy to navigate. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the experience was also great: great service and great food and affordable.

    1. Avi Deitcher

      Simon, I would love to try it, but some airlines (Emirates, Saudi, etc.), like some countries, still “don’t take my kind.”Why bother with the entertainment system? Isn’t it easier and better to just take an iPad with some movies? I believe one airline is now experimenting with giving them to passengers for the duration of the flight with internal wifi access to movies instead of installing an expensive in-the-seat entertainment system.

      1. Simon de la Rouviere

        “don’t take my kind” <- What’s that mean?It would be awesome to just get an iPad with wifi. Then I’m sorted.

        1. Avi Deitcher

          Two responses, two threads.1) Business: I don’t recall which airlines was doing it. They looked at the cost of installing an entertainment system, and it was many multiples the cost of just buying a few hundred iPads and installing some media servers.

        2. Avi Deitcher

          2) Kind: You remember the old racist signs on storefronts and businesses from NYC around the turn of the century, during the big Irish immigrations, “NINA”?Some countries don’t want no Jews. Not in the country, not on the airlines, not in any way. As a matter of official government policy. Racism in many third-world countries is, unfortunately, alive and well. I shouldn’t take it too personally, their are other racial and ethnic groups they view similarly (slave trade still exists in some places), and misogyny is part of it.It offends me, though.

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            For a period I had to have a duplicate passport – all perfectly legal – as the TA immigration stamps caused some problems in other countries, potentially. Weird.As an aside, the title of John Lydon’s (nee Johnny Rotten) excellent autobiography pretty much sums up the bigotry of many people up until all too recently – “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” – this was a common sign on the front door of many B&Bs and hotels in London.Incredible.

          2. Avi Deitcher

            I had that too, but my US passport is issued in Tel Aviv, so that won’t help. So is my Canadian one. But I knew lots of people who got loose papers with their TA entry-exit stamps.The difference is that US, UK, most liberal Western democracies (and that is the difference) grew past its slavery, then its racism. Some countries and cultures retain it.

      2. ShanaC

        I know of Jewish people who fly emirates. Granted they live/work/travel to dubai, but still.

        1. LE

          They do some really kick ass advertising. I’d totally fly them if I needed to.

      3. mcbeese

        American provides 10″ Galaxy Tabs.

        1. Avi Deitcher

          Was it American? Do they pre-load videos, or wifi connect to some media streamer?

          1. mcbeese

            Yes, American Airlines. The tablets come pre-loaded with some games (e.g., Angry Birds) and some promotional material, but video content is streamed over wifi from an on-board server.

    2. fredwilson

      i’ve heard great things about Emirates

  8. Randy Meech

    I used to travel all the time, and found the international flights on otherwise-bad domestic carriers much better than their normal service.Seatguru ( is great — it shows a description & seatmap of the plane, which will tell you if you’re in for a good flight & also where to sit with power if you’re not in business class.

    1. aweissman

      love Seat Guru

  9. jason wright

    I dislike flying. I feel not in control of my destiny. I’ve considered a parachute in my hand luggage (which is allowed) as a psychological comfort blanket.You must try Ryanair when next hopping around Europe. Good luck.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Gin works for me.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        I am a Scotch guy… but you really need to fly business class international to get anything decent.Then again, BA knows their whisky…

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Scotch is even better, for sure – I used to love very long-haul flights, especially if upgraded; a couple of generous drams inside me, some reading and Zzzzz. Life was so intense back then the total detachment from the world below for a few hours was blissful. To this day I love long-haul, hate short-haul.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            “Drams”. Well-spoken!OK, I’ll share a story.1996 or so, I was working IT for a large financial. Did a week in Hong Kong, then a few days in Singapore, doing some systems work for the trading desks. Really tired by the end, guaranteed to make mistakes.Last day in Singapore, I make some early morning changes, push them out globally, watch the traders start to work, everything is fine. I work all day, then out to the airport for the BA redeye Singapore-Heathrow.Midway through the flight, sleeping on the all-business upper deck, I suddenly realize the mistake I made could shut down the London and New York desks. I wake up, jump up and shout, “Holy Shit!” I think I woke up and frightened the entire business class. No airphones, no Internet, I am sunk.I landed in LHR and immediately called the London office. One Scotsman named Andy in the Canary Wharf office figured it out and saved my rear. Bought him a nice bottle of Scotch; he got to pick.

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol, yikes – sometimes being able to get online immediately can be a luxury we now take for granted.Brings back memories of my talking – yes, talking – operators through changing live code (often nothing more than JCL but still critical) so production runs would work – usually at ungodly hours of the night and with not even access to a 9600bd dial-up modem to do it myself. Only alternative was to get dressed and drive to the IT room – sometimes hundreds of miles away, so talking through changes to code was by far the better option!Seems like a lifetime ago!

          3. Avi Deitcher

            Wow! Talking them through code changes… wild!

        2. ShanaC

          BA has good whisky…Noted 🙂

      2. jason wright

        a Gin & Parachute please stewardess

    2. RichardF

      lol….Ryanair, you might as well be a piece of baggage as Brad Feld would say.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        If not seen it before, see the Fascinating Aida video in my message below, Richard – inspired by Ryanair 😉

        1. RichardF

          fecking hysterical Carl…

  10. Carl Rahn Griffith

    As an aside, a charming song by the wonderful Fascinating Aida, re: cheap flights (contains some language but is spot-on and very funny) …

  11. kirklove

    Lili thinks I’m crazy but I have a dream of flying ultra first class on Emirates. I could care less about actually going to Dubai, I just want to hang in my own room on a plane.

      1. kirklove

        You’re seeing them pop up now on more and more airlines. If only dreams really were free 😉

        1. Rohan

          It costs roughly $2000 an hour on singapore airlines! 😀

          1. kirklove

            Peanuts. As in they are some expensive peanuts.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m with you. that is a dream

    2. John Revay

      I love those commercials…..#MileHighClub

  12. Lew Hollerbach

    Agreed about BA and Lufthansa for USA to Europe – excellent choices. And as someone else here mentioned, BA’s Business Class is outstanding.BA didn’t used to be so good; in the 70s, when it was still government owned, BA stood for “Bloody Awful” airlines. fly a lot to India, and BA or Lufthansa from London or Frankfurt to New Delhi are hard to beat.But for the Far East, nothing compares to Singapore Airlines, with Malaysian, Thai, and Cathay Pacific as close seconds.

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve heard great things about Singapore Airlines. i have never flown them.

      1. Moe Ibrahim

        The direct flight between Newark and Singapore is unbeatable.

        1. John Clyman

          From the all-good-things-come-to-an-end department:…(Haven’t flown Singapore myself yet; I hear nothing but good things.)

        2. anand

          That’s currently the world’s longest nonstop flight. Don’t know if I could endure a 19 hour flight 😉

        3. Andre DiBiagio

          Most definitely agree – this, and the one from Singapore to LA, are fantastic flights and its a shame they are being suspended at the end of next year. Fred: if you trips to Asia requires you to go to Singapore or one of the nearby countries then I can strongly recommend the Newark to Changi flight. Changi (especially T3) is a very pleasant airport to transit through. If you are going to China then you would be backtracking too much if you flew to Singapore though.In terms of domestic US flights which I have been doing more of in recent years, Virgin is hands down the best experience I have had and the only one that even comes close to what I have come to expect from many Asian carriers.

  13. maxniederhofer

    G650. 🙂 In seriousness, BA is probably most consistently good long and short haul experience, if (and only if) you have status with them or pay the upgrade. Getting bumped to First makes me smile like a little kid. Happens very rarely, though cabin upgrades from Eco to Premium Eco or even Business are par for the course if you fly on a weekly basis.Economy short haul Europe Easyjet beats Ryanair on experience, though not on price. Norwegian is the only one with Wifi and it’s fun :)P.S. Seatguru. So much.

    1. fredwilson

      what short haul european carriers have wifi? only norwegian?

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        I read somewhere that Lufthansa had started to implement it in some short haul flights, but I haven’t seen it. I’ve made a few flights this year with them but there was no wifi available and I haven’t been able to find which ones have it.Around 6-7 years ago I was working for a telecom company and we studied with an airline the option of setting up communications on all their planes. I was the one in charge of the numbers and they simply didn’t add up for short haul. I guess that today the equipment is much cheaper, but still it is very difficult to convince people to pay when most flights are around 1.5 hours.

      2. maxniederhofer

        only norwegian afaik

  14. RichardF

    Emirates are one of my favourites, followed by Virgin for transatlantic. I avoid BA like the plague, their cabin crew are great but the ground crew, particularly on the US and French side have a real attitude.

  15. William Mougayar

    Virgin hands-on. Why haven’t other airlines emulated some of the things they offer? The best part is when you order something on the screen & they bring it to you in 5 mins. Prior to them, Wardair if anyone in Canada remembered them. They did much of Virgin has now, but 20 years ago. Ones I have yet to experience include  Singapore Airlines & Emirates. 

  16. Roger Stone

    I like BA but recently have been very impressed by Emirates, very efficient, good quality and good prices

  17. Geekonomicon

    I think I’ve flown BA more than any other airline, even for short haul flights within the UK.

  18. Alex

    Air New Zealand*’s best safety videos.I’m a patriotic kiwi

    1. Avi Deitcher

      That is great!

    2. Avi Deitcher

      And BTW, my parrot’s name is Kiwi… 🙂

    3. Ruth BT

      Love watching those!

  19. aychedee

    Air New Zealand and Emirates are two of the best long haul. Air New Zealand have some interesting different class types as well. Premium economy is a good idea for an airline that does almost exclusively long haul. Even the basic economy is fantastic in the new 777s. If you are a couple travelling they’ll sell you three seats which fold out into a couch. Amazing.

  20. Chris Swan

    My all time favourite was EOS. With <48 people on each flight they managed to eliminate the whole herding process that goes on most other places (though the premium products on A380s seem to be getting close). There are still a handful of business class only offerings out there, and I bet they’re all good.BA (on a good day) can be very good, but they have built up a big expectation problem. They sell on the premium experience, and if you’re lucky enough to be flying in the better cabins that’s fine (and I would choose BA business over Virgin Upper*). Sadly their economy offering is below par (particularly for long haul) and it always feels like they’ve set themselves up to fail in the eyes of the majority of their customers.The one time I got to fly with Singapore they were outstanding, and I had a very happy experience with Quantas earlier this year.* Virgin win on end to end experience with better lounges and complimentary limos etc., but the product on board just isn’t as well refined as BA’s latest offering.

    1. fredwilson

      i flew EOS once and it was excellent

      1. Chris Swan

        It’s worth noting that part of what made EOS great at the JFK end was the Emirates lounge – less cool than the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow, but nicer stuff. Judging by some of the other comments here Emirates manage to extend that luxury and quality elsewhere in their offering.

  21. Ed Freyfogle

    Fred,more interesting to me would be what you make of airline websites. Here in Europe, Ryan Air is very profitable, and their website borders on the criminal. Customers suffer through it though, painstakingly unticking each added on cost (no, I don’t plan on taking skis to the beach at a cost of 40 Euro, thanks for asking though) while being distracted by blinking text.Does usability or service in general matter when customers are confronted with minimal choice?

    1. Ricardo Diz

      I agree. Ryanair is probably the worst airline I’ve ever traveld with. Since they travel to secondary airports in smaller cities, sometimes they are an almost unavoidable alternative at a good price.

    2. fredwilson

      i am embarrassed to admit i don’t use airline websites

      1. ShanaC

        there is definitely space for disruption on many of these websites….

  22. jonlin98

    To Asia, I’ve had awesome experiences in Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Granted, I was lucky enough to be flying premium cabins most of the time so the 16-18 hour nonstop flights actually turn out to be like a mini vacation. Catch up on movies, drink champagne that I can’t normally afford to buy, get well fed. I’ve had 1.5 hour domestic flights that have been more painful.

    1. leigh

      never never never (i mean never) fly Cathay Pacific. They used to be the best but apparently there is some issue with their seats (documented by the people of the Internet) My hubbie and daughter flew last xmas business to Thailand — and Peter said it was the worst most uncomfortable flight of his entire life. He only chose CP bc of how they used to be. Had to cancel the flight and ended up using a whole lotta points getting them 1st class back to Toronto on another airline bc he refused to return with them.

  23. William Mougayar

    Funny Airlines Acronyms:ALITALIA – Always Late In Takeoff And Late In ArrivalSABENA – Such A Bad Experience, Never AgainDELTA – Departing Even Later Than Anticipated BA – Brutish Airlines VIRGIN – Very Interesting Ride Going In Naked

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      Good ones – when I was growing up in the Middle East, the Royal Jordanian Airlines which is nicknamed ‘ALIA’ after the King’s wife was also referred to with the acronym ‘Always Late In Arrival’

    2. John Revay

      Nice job

    3. Richard

      Delta shuttle pre 911 was amazing. They would accept anything that resembled a ticket. Show up 5 minutes before the flight? No problem.

      1. fredwilson

        those were the days

        1. PhilipSugar

          Get TSA Pre.

          1. fredwilson

            working on it. it’s not easy. nor should it be.

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup. I used to love showing up 10 mins prior to departure after zooming through “security”.

        1. PhilipSugar

          TSA Pre! Shoes, belt, jacket, stay on. Laptop stays in bag. No such thing as take liquids out. Line? Zero.

          1. DonRyan

            TSA Pre is the best.

          2. PhilipSugar

            3 beeps to speed.

      3. David Semeria

        I once was so late for a flight with Lauda Air they had already closed the airplane door. I knocked really hard on the little round window and flashed my boarding pass at the astonished hostess.To my utter amazement she opened the door and let me in.Those were the days!

        1. Richard

          ive been there!!

        2. William Mougayar

          I kid you not. In those same old days, they had closed the door, but the gate’s attendant called the plane and they waited for me and re-opened the door. It was Air Canada, although I dissed them here, but those were the days when your travel status meant something.

        3. Aaron Klein

          Delta just did that on one of my flights last night. Good service still happens once in a while!

        4. mcbeese

          A few years ago I was on my way to Beijing on AA from Dallas and I booked a 4-hour connection in SFO so I could zip down to Palo Alto for a business dinner. I arrived back at the airport pretty close to flight time (about 30 minutes before) and the ticket agents treated me like a bad smell. No way they were going to clear my documents and print a boarding pass. They told me I had missed the flight. My response was “well, I guess you better tell the pilot that the plane is going to be late departing because I don’t think it’s legal for my checked bags to leave without me…and by the way, they were checked in Dallas so they’ll be buried under all of the other bags.” They checked me in and I made it to the gate in loads of time. There was still a boarding line.

          1. David Semeria

            Ah, the checked-in baggage trick.Almost certainly the only upside to international terrorism.

        5. Dave Pinsen

          Had the opposite (more typical) experience a couple of years ago. I was in Cleveland on a brief layover on my way home from San Francisco when the gate agents said the flight was going to be delayed an hour or so. So I went and got a coffee elsewhere in the airport and came back. Airplane door closed, engine on, and they hadn’t announced anything on the PA system. It was the last flight of the day, so I had to hang out in the airport until the next flight at 6am.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I had a commuter flight from Seattle (or was it SFO) to Portland that left early without me — I was sitting right across the corridor from the counter — they called my name but not over the PA and I was engrossed in something. I don’t do a lot of commuter flights so was not aware how casual they could be or that they could decide to leave early.

          2. BillMcNeely

            That happen to me on a flight between DC and Dallas as I was coming home from from Iraq. I had not been home in 7 months I was pissed.

      4. John Clyman

        Agreed. And opening the tail exit, as they almost always did, shaved a few minutes off the arrival side.

    4. Techman

      Ha ha yeah those acronyms are not bad.

    5. Prokofy

      JAT (former Yugoslavia) Just Any Time

    6. Luca Morandini

      ah ah ah ALITALIA is amazing 🙂 And as an italian I should it somehow true :))

  24. Tom Labus

    Cathy Pacific for Asia.In Hong Kong they used to send a real petty attendant to walk with you to your connecting flight.

  25. SallyBroom

    Good point! In Europe you often hear people saying they *love* rail travel here. Once you’ve taken the snow train or a long trip with Deutsche Bahn it’s easy to see why – no luggage limits, you can take anything on board you want, they serve pints (in glasses) of ‘local’ beer from the bar and the staff are always super friendly

    1. Tom Labus

      Sounds great!

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Now, that’s civilised!

      1. Aviah Laor

        yes, they always had an edge with trains

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Love train journeys.

    3. JimHirshfield

      Wow…I’m ready to rail!

    4. SallyBroom

      Glad to hear it guys!

    5. ShanaC

      Why can’t amtrack do this. The train goes through pretty places. There are plenty of cool local breweries in many american cities. We have stuff like the rockies! </whine>

  26. reece

    Qantas. Air New Zealand. British Airways.

  27. Dan Storms

    Emerates and Singapore Airlines top my list.Jet Blue used to be fantastic, but I haven’t flown them in years because I haven’t been on their routes. Have they fallen off?

  28. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    The best flight experience I had was with Emirates. I have also heard amazing things about Qatar airlines. Those who are planning a trip to the MIddle East or Asia can try them sometime! The European carriers such as BA and Lufthansa are excellent.

  29. heuristocrat

    Maybe I’ve been lucky the past few years but I’ve enjoyed Air France, American Airlines (AA code shares with BA to London so I sometimes end up on BA too) flying back and forth to Europe. I also like Virgin America cross country flights but tend to use American since I can generally upgrade. I still remember the Concorde and BA First Class from back in the old days…. now that was travel….

  30. Luke Chamberlin

    The best airlines are the two Japanese airlines: JAL and ANA. The Japanese know how to do service right, and what other world cuisine is a perfect match for fitting in tiny airplane food boxes?PS Fred, I remember you mentioning in another post that you were going to Japan at the end of this year. Is that trip still coming up?

    1. fredwilson

      yes. i can’t wait.

      1. Michael Shafrir

        Japan is all kinds of awesome. Of all the great perks I had working in my startup days, the best BY FAR were the two trips I took to Japan for customer-service immersion training.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Is Japan/Asia your Christmas trip this year, Fred?

        1. fredwilson

          yes. just Japan. with the whole family.

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Cool. Should be quite an experience. Never been.

          2. fredwilson

            i can’t wait.

    2. ShanaC

      such a pretty bento box….

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        You don’t even want to eat it right…

  31. leigh

    Porter. Porter. Porter. Porter. Porter.omg i LOVE Porter. nothing better for short haul long haul? Any Asian airline. Thai Airways, Singapore. All awesome.

    1. fredwilson

      porter is the airline that flies out of downtown toronto, right?

      1. William Mougayar

        Yes it is. I would say that Porter is the closest to Virgin from a service friendliness and passenger convenience point of view.

      2. leigh

        Yep. Goes to Jersey — take train into town from there. you will love it.

  32. Ryan Stephens

    The ONLY US airline that doesn’t consistently make me want to pull my hair out is Southwest.

  33. Marios Koufaris

    Overall I like United but I think it really depends on the route and even the time on a specific route. I really like using Routehappy ( They’re pretty new (still in beta) but they are basically a flight experience search engine (as opposed to price-based). Plus they collect user feedback on flights that can be really helpful.

  34. MJC

    BA in europe- business class is outstanding. Korean Air in Asia is also very very good.

  35. MJC

    BTW- if you ever get to fly out of London City Airport you should. Very quaint/not like being at an airport, small and easy for european flights…

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      And so much easier to get to.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I doubt that many here have to fly to Santa Barbara (California) but it is one of the most pleasant airports I’ve ever experienced. Also quaint. But most things about Santa Barbara are pretty special.

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s the happiest city in the US, isn’t it?

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Well, it makes me happy.

  36. Jabinc

    I am sure other airlines are as terrible as United, but since I fly them most they certainly appear the worst. It seems like it would be illegal to sell you seats for a nonstop flight at the perfect time two months before the trip when you have many other options but choose theirs based on price, then three weeks before the flight force change the itinerary to different times and include a layover somewhere. They essentially lied to me to get my business. Of course you can sell a lot of flights if you make them the perfect flight and the cheapest then change all the terms later with no consequence. United and Comcast do not deserve to retain the size and control they have gained. That’s right, I dislike comcast so much they made it into an airline discussion.I wish I could suggest a good local air line. I am looking for one myself. Air New Zealand to fly west is great and I agree Jet Blue used to be good for shorter flights as was Southwest before them.

  37. Seth Lieberman

    Emirates is phenomenal when you are over their. Fly like a sultan even in coach.

  38. Paul M

    Currently on x-country trip and took Virgin America from Wash Dulles to SFO, and loved it. Very competitive pricing (I’m cheap) along with good in-flight satellite TV and interwebs, reasonably comfortable seats, and a decent variety of food & drink. In contrast, United from SFO to Chicago had no real in-flight entertainment and poor variety of food, and it cost more! Yes, VA has this weird pink lighting but I guess that’s just a personal preference and it did not bother me a bit. Will fiy it again in a heartbeat.

  39. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Swiss – Really good, KLM good – Singapore Airlines – Stunning BA – good and cool advertisingAir France – Up thereOthers …Worst – For a reason – Must Add – Easyjet- They ask you pay for early boarding (because they dont preallocate seats.Those that pay get on before diasabled people and families with young childrenI find this repugnant – And would love people to bang the drum a little!Finally can’t resist adding – We are going to Paris on the 4th 5th 6th December for LeWeb…We pay our own flights – but attendance is free – courtesy of Startup competition semifinalist status 🙂 – WHOOOPPPEEE – Hope to see some of you there !

    1. William Mougayar

      The part I like about Air France is when the flight attendants reverse their jackets for the food service as they look more like restaurant waiters/waitresses. Only the French would make food service so ceremonial.

      1. ShanaC

        your quebecness is showing :p (most of us would never realize, I think)

        1. William Mougayar

          frenchness you mean…no quebec here 🙂

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Pretty much every time I or anyone I know has flown with Air France they have lost their luggage.

        1. William Mougayar


  40. Nathan Lustig

    In South America: LAN, good food, great service, comfortable/newer planes. Just flew Bogota/Santiago on a brand new plane.Emirates still has the best long haul flight I’ve taken, NYC-Dubai-Johannesburg

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      LAN is great, I flew with them between Madrid and Santiago and it was the shortest 14 hours ever. That route was a codeshare with Iberia and everyone in my company was careful to only pick the dates that were operated by LAN because it was so much better.

      1. Nathan Lustig

        I try to do the same thing when I go Santiago-NYC,MIA, they are codeshares with American and LAN is just so much better. Its crazy the codeshares are the same price whether its a lan plane or an american plane.

      2. ShanaC

        how do you know which days are codeshared?

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          Some routes are always codeshared. You can know when comparing prices online because a few airlines have the same flight times. Then, when making your booking with any of the airlines (or from a travel agent website) there is always a note about who actually operates the flight if it is not the one who is selling the ticket.

    2. fredwilson

      where is LAN based out of?

      1. Nathan Lustig

        Based in Santiago, Chile Pro tip – book in spanish from chile for sometimes cheaper fares.

        1. fredwilson


        2. ShanaC

          usually true of flying international I have found 🙂

  41. jonathan hegranes

    For me, it’s Air China! Best airline food ever, and just like the good ol’ days, there’s full service on even the shortest of flights.

  42. Kyle Widrick

    Virgin #1 domesticCathay a preference for Asia bound United as a preferred member for all else

  43. Roger Ellman

    Bring back PanAm! Apart from that, within Greece….yes they are still flying(!)….Aegean is realy good. Better than domestic airlines in many other countries.I still like Virgin for attitude, atmosphere, decor and innovation on international flights.Have not flown Virgin America the disco lighting seems a bit off base – it would be good to see some innovation in creating a wholly better and different flight experience. The big challenge, amongst others, is the airport experience which is mighty hard for an airline to control or even influence.Innovation in travel looks poised to appear in new travel areas (“developing countries”), which in some cases have the chance to leapfrog legacy standards and traditions. Just as mobile phones trounced the barely rooted landline phones in parts of Africa and new methods of payment, ordering and more have sprung up there, perhaps improvements in air travel will come from surprising places. For example as a low cost airline – Stelios Hadji Ioannou’s FastJet could turn out to be a pleasing surprise. (He was the founder of Europe’s EasyJet low fare airline).Not a direct answer to your posed question – but we are all die-hard innovators or would-be ones, here…are we not.!?

    1. ShanaC

      Airports are not owned by the airlines. They’re owned by other people, mainly municipal corporations like the Port Authority. Airlines get some input when stuff is rebuilt (see, eg, JetBlue + JFK and the Saarin building)And you remember PamAm? And when JFK was called Idlewild?

      1. Roger Ellman

        Yes all airports are owned by companies other than the airlines thus the challenge and the difficulty in changing this part of the experience. Virgin offering limos or privately driven cars to the airport years ago was an attempt to affect this (for Upper Class passengers on international flights only).I am not as pre-historic as being pre-JFK but PanAm was, well, had a good color scheme and logo for its time!!

    2. PhilipSugar

      I loved PanAm. I loved the shuttle. Fly ten flights in a month and get a free first class ticket to Europe. I did love PanAm

  44. Matt A. Myers

    The cheapest is fine for me. Always experiences to be had. 🙂

  45. Matt A. Myers

    This thread just made me think of Aviator … guess I’m watching a movie tonight!

    1. jason wright

      I’m thinking Wall Street, but I can’t remember the name of the airline.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I own that one too – maybe two movies this weekend.. 😛

  46. Rohan

    No contest win for Asian airlines.Singapore airlines is top top top class.Emirates is very good. Jet Airways really good.Heard fantastic things about Qatar.

    1. fredwilson

      Jet Airways is getting some love in this thread

  47. Ricardo Diz

    Singapore Airlines was probably the airline I liked most traveling with. I do like KLM and Lufthansa. I also enjoyed traveling in Avianca, from Columbia. Good seat space and new airplanes (e.g., media tech is better).

  48. Fernando Gutierrez

    Swiss. I’ve been flying from Europe to the US monthy for almost three years and the best experience was with them. Too bad their times are usually non convenient to me. On a flight from Madrid to Zurich, in economy, instead of a crappy sandwich, I had a breakfast consisting of a hot croissant and a Mövenpick ice cream (off topic for those as obsessed with ice cream as I am, try Mövenpick when buying non artisan, more difficult to find but much better than Häagen Dazs).

  49. Nico Lumma

    I fly Lufthansa whenever possible, which is quite easy here in Germany 🙂

  50. Trish Fontanilla

    Absolutely, True Blue. Jet Blue was my breath of fresh air last week after craziness with Hurricane Sandy/Amtrak. They’re incredible communicators (their email update post-storm is why I decided to fly), and totally love their staff. I recently sent them like a 30 second thank you video and it got passed around to their crew. The sweetest crew members got back to me to say thank you for my thank you! Experience is important, but it’s all about people for me. From internet companies to restaurants, when there are so many (similar) choices, it comes down to the people behind the brands (at least for me).

    1. ShanaC

      I wonder what was in that video

  51. arustgi

    Surprised no one yet has referred to ‘Emirates’. By far the best, most comfortable flying experience, even for the economy flights.

    1. fredwilson

      i hear great things. i can’t wait to try it.

  52. bsaitz

    singapore airlines

  53. Siminoff

    Everyone will probably think I am crazy but I love American Airlines.

  54. Jason C

    In no particular order: Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, LufthansaWorst experience: American Airlines, hands down

    1. William Mougayar

      Always Awful?

      1. Jason C

        Could be bad luck but I flew from Washington DC to El Paso semi-regularly for a couple of years and rarely got to DFW for a layover on time. On the other hand, I’ve flown United relatively trouble-free but many of my friends despise United. Just personal experience, I guess.

    2. fredwilson

      yes, i really hate American

  55. Pramod Dikshith

    I would never travel european airlines. The quality of aircrafts, customer service and food is really poor. Asian Airlines like Singapore, Emirates, Qatar, Jet etc are some of them I would recommend. US and European airlines will definitely learn what customer service is all about

  56. David Petersen

    I go back and forth between Los Angeles and Phoenix. Southwest often runs specials for $59 or $69/flight. If I time my purchases properly, I can buy a years worth of flights for $1750 (26 * 69).Can’t beat that!

  57. Todd Mitchell

    My job requires me to circumnavigate the globe once a month. Flying approx. 40,000 miles a month. Because I have no loyalty to any specific carrier or alliance, I always fly the best airline.My top airlines hands down in stack ranked order:Asia: Singapore Airlines, Asiana, QantasMiddle East: Emirates, QatarEurope: Turkish Airways, LufthansaSouth America: LAN

    1. fredwilson

      turkish airways. that’s a good one to know about. thanks.

      1. anand

        Turkish airways has bad customer service (hard to understand and rude phone reps). And if you want to check in a second bag (a norm on an international flight) it costs $225. Not great Imho.

        1. ericlklein

          I have had problems with Turkish canceling flights at the last min. with no warning.

      2. goldwerger

        Turkish often has lost cost business class tickets

    2. William Mougayar

      What kind of job do you have?

      1. Todd Mitchell

        My team and I run strategy and business development for a large international cloud / hosting company with its HQ in Dallas.

        1. Techman

          Oh…now it makes sense. What is the company’s name?

    3. jason wright

      that’s to the moon and back every year

    4. Werner Vogels

      I circumvent the globe about every 3-4 months and surprisingly (or not) have exactly the same recommendations as Todd. Qatar (absolute best) and Turkish (very good, low cost business class) are my hidden gems.The hardest thing to do is to fly these and then connect to a US domestic airline. The difference is so big that it leaves you shell shocked every time.

    5. mcbeese

      Surprised Virgin Atlantic didn’t make this list, at least for flights between UK, NYC, Miami, and the Caribbean.

      1. Todd Mitchell

        I used to fly upper deck between the UK and SFO maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I was doing that every couple of weeks. In my opinion, their ground and on-board service has suffered greatly in the last several years. I also find their aircraft to show their age more than other carriers — perhaps delayed retrofits and poor maintenance.Because of the slip in service, they’ve been removed from my preferred airline list. And with plenty of really great alternatives, it is unlikely I’ll try them again in the near future.

        1. mcbeese

          Good to know. I haven’t flown VA in several years. I remember being floored by how awesome the Heathrow experience was. Limos to the airport and ticket processing in the limo before entering the lounge via a private door.

    6. Techman

      That must be one hard job you have. Well not hard, but wouldn’t you eventually get tired of doing that?

  58. mikenolan99

    Domestically I’m stuck in the Delta web… too much status to give up.Once upon a time I took two trips around the world in the same year, one with my family of five, once with my MBA class – plus two round trips to Australia and one to Africa, with a bunch of Caribbean trips thrown in. (Yeah, that was a good year – everyone should go to the pay window once in their lives…)Flew with United partners – United was by far the worse of the bunch.Along the way I flew Asiana – the best airline first class I’ve ever experienced.Air New Zealand and Singapore air first class is great, and the Singapore coach class that used to shuttle MSP->AMS was a fantastic value.

    1. fredwilson

      where is Asiana based?

      1. mikenolan99

        South Korea. I flew from Shanghai to Korea to LAX.Fantastic. Pajamas. Filet and lobster.My wife surprised me with an upgrade. I married well!

      2. mikenolan99

        Weirdest flight ever was Xian China to Tibet. China Air – we were all crowded into the center 8 rows, the rest of the plane empty. Smoking was still allowed. No one would move. When I tried to spread out, I was shouted back to my seat.The other passengers smoked and stared straight ahead for hours. Spooky.

    2. ShanaC

      Does it ever drive anyone here crazy that these things have “a web” that you get locked into? Porta-miles seem like a good idea….

      1. PhilipSugar

        Porta miles will never work, the whole point is that you get great service on the carrier you fly. Why would another carrier that you don’t fly want to do that? They will give you a status match if you switch but you have to fly the miles on them or you’ll lose it.

  59. ConversationAgent

    I wish Lufthansa flew within the US – although the travel experience here includes TSA, where security in Europe is by far a more pleasant (and less dramatic) experience, so that factors in for me.For the US, I do like Southwest because I can get what I want by paying to get onto the plane early, without trying to understand the whole system of mileage and points. I pack light (small carryon) and can get into my seat in a minute. The staff is usually pleasant, their system for beverage/snacks is efficient (no need for a cart if all you give is a glass of water/soda and many airlines not even a snack).

    1. William Mougayar

      I still like the “casualness” of Alitalia…they are nice inside the plane. You almost feel you already arrived in Italy the minute you board the plane 🙂

  60. Nick Grossman

    I don’t think it’s enough to simply consider the airline — the airline+airport combination can really make a difference.For instance, I fly Boston->SFO pretty frequently. I ALWAYS fly virgin america for two reasons:1) VA has its own security checkpoint at Logan, for just two gates. So you can show up 40 minutes before takeoff and breeze right in2) Onboard, I actually love the VA nightclub vibe. Feels soothing and nice. And they have more legroom than most, plus internet.So, for that trip, that’s the best combo.By comparison, flying JetBlue out of Boston (which I do if I fly to NYC) is a total nightmare — very frequently a 1000 person line at security.

    1. fredwilson

      i used to fly Virgin from NYC to SF but once United got gogo on their planes i went back. i am typing this from a Virgin flight to LA and i really hate the lighting on these planes. it bugs me to no end.

      1. Nick Grossman

        maybe you just need to order a vodka + red bull and go with the flow…

        1. fredwilson

          i have never had a red bull in my life and i sure hope i go out of this life with that run on the other hand …..

          1. ShanaC

            I’m with you on the red bull. Ewwww.

          2. Steven Cruz

            That’s my biggest problem. Sometimes coffee doesn’t do it for me and although I try to stay away, I give in to buying an energy drink. Any suggestions for when coffee just doesn’t do it for you ?

          3. fredwilson

            i only have one coffee in the morningif i am feeling low energy in the afternoon i have tea (in the winter) and jamba juice (in the summer)

          4. matthughes

            Never had a Red Bull either.I don’t get it at all.

          5. andyidsinga

            i had one once …*ONCE* 😉

          6. fredwilson

            that makes me even more confident in my stance

          7. LE

            I have an automatic aversion to a suggestion framed as:”maybe you just need to [enter helpful suggestion] and go with the flow…”…which is just another way of saying “get over it”. To anyone who doesn’t succumb to peer pressure that is a sure way to not get them to try the idea.It’s like “you’re wrong and here is how to be right”.

          8. jason wright

            You wouldn’t think it, but Felix was sane until he started drinking that stuff

          9. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol. Fascinating business case, though. Remarkable branding.

          10. PhilipSugar

            I know a place that won’t serve Red Bull and Vodka because what you get is a bunch of super wide awake, wired drunks.I have had a sip but I didn’t swallow 🙂

          11. pointsnfigures

            Had it once. Tastes like cough syrup. Don’t get the appeal.

      2. David S

        I’m with you all the way. I will fly Virgin if I can get a good deal on short flights up the coast, but I make sure to pack a good eyemask so I don’t feel naseuous from their lights and TV screens.

    2. scottythebody

      This is a great point and makes all the difference in the world. Our airport in Vienna, Austria SUCKS, but when I lived in Atlanta, I loved Delta because, by the nature of the beast, that was the one who could get me wherever I wanted to go and, quite frankly, I think ATL is one of the top 5 airports in the world — maybe even #1 in terms of efficiency.

      1. Nick Grossman

        this would actually be a pretty awesome addition to flight search. the way sorts flights by “Agony” — I would love it if they could include relative convenience of airport + airline (plus time of takeoff?) to that. This would be a good opportunity for crowdsourcing.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Great idea.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        The only time I intentionally choose Delta is when I have to fly to the South and only if there is not a comparable flight on United. Typically Delta rules the Southern skies and, I agree, Atlanta is one of the best airports I’ve experienced. Seattle is another — like going to the mall. I try to avoid Dallas for connecting flights since it seems to be more squeamish about sending planes out when there is a hint of a storm.

    3. JLM

      .Funny, I love JetBlue out of Austin to Laguardia..

    4. Fernando Gutierrez

      Fully agree about airports. Really important when flights are not direct. I try to avoid big airports with many terminals so I can plan for shorter times.

      1. Nick Grossman

        The other interesting idea is that even given the same airport, all airlines are not equal. Like the fact that, for me flying from Boston, virgin America is great and jetblue is a nightmare.–http://nickgrossman.ison the fly

  61. Pete Griffiths


  62. Marios Koufaris

    Reposting because for some reason my previous comment disappeared:Overall I like United but I think it really depends on the route and even the time on a specific route. I really like using Routehappy ( They’re pretty new (still in beta) but they are basically a flight experience search engine (as opposed to price-based). Plus they collect user feedback on flights that can be really helpful.

    1. William Mougayar

      It went automatically into spam but I brought it back.

    2. ShanaC

      not loggedinness and links sometimes do that. sorry 🙁

  63. Tommy Chen

    Hands down Singapore Air and Korean Air. Their cabins are always clean, entertainment is decent (not that important now that we have tablets that last 10+ hours), some fleets have USB charging (in economy too), food is good, and staff is always courteous.

  64. Zappy Underpants

    Singapore Airlines – their international economy class is almost on par with US domestic business and first class. If I could fly them every time, I’d be a happy camper.Cathy Pacific – Close to Singapore Airlines in terms of quality. Although their 3 language cabin announcements suck up way too much time.and Virgin, not Virgin America – what do you have against nightclubs? Reminds me of what flying probably was like in the 1960’s during the airlines heyday.

  65. scottythebody

    Living in Austria, I like to stick with our “national carrier” whenever possible for miles/benies. The food in business class, as well as the wines, service, desserts, etc are amazing. However, their business class seats are actually torture devices that torment me in my nightmares.

    1. ShanaC

      do they serve austrian wines?

      1. scottythebody

        Oh, yes! A lot of Austrian wine.

  66. Brandon

    I prefer Frontier (for domestic travel) whenever possible… even after they got rid of the chocolate chip cookies.

    1. Dan

      Whaaa…they stopped with the cookies? That was the best part.Although not awesome, I usually fly delta. Pre startup life I traveled weekly and for the last two years I’ve slowly been losing status. Two years later and I still get upgraded to first at least 50% of the time. Gravy train will end after December…cheapest option will then win.

  67. daryn

    It’s true that Virgin America’s lighting is a tad too nightclubby, but the service and the rest of the experience more than make up for it. They’re my favorite, but usually my #2 based on their route map and my destinations.Being a Seattleite, my #1 choice is almost always the hometown company, Alaska.

  68. scottythebody

    The new beds in BA business class are awesome. Singapore is obviously great from Raffles class on up. I love BA for short flights to London

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a big sell for me. if its a good bed, i can sleep on the flight.

  69. Marcel

    Singapore Airlines is pretty legit. Same as Emirates

  70. FlavioGomes

    Air Canada and British Airways have satisfactory service compared to the others. I love flying smaller private craft, but absolutely hate the general experience of commercial air travel. Checking luggage sucks, lineups suck, shitty food, terrible air in the plane, frequent unpredictable delays, roulette with seat mates…. I,m sure they are trying to improve the experience but they generally suck all around. I do it far to often and it doesn’t make me happy lol. It’s unfortunately a necessary painful evil to shave off time.

    1. William Mougayar

      Air Canada? Yikes. Compared to United or AA, yes it’s great. Air Canada has a monopoly. They do the strict minimum & have grumpy attendants. We call their “Hospitality” class Hostility class.

      1. FlavioGomes

        I suppose I get lucky with them more often than the others. AA attendants try their best I find, but they don’t have much to work with. I’ve recently avoided Pearson and go to smaller regional airports that have international service and have found an improvement in a reduction of congestion. Additionally much closer to home without the 401 nonsense to contend with. Sorry I get grumpy when talking about airlines. Nothing pleasant about it other than the destination.

  71. ShanaC

    Southwest out of Chicago Midway almost always was an amazing experience.I also really love Jetblue.Negative points to AA!I think the most beautiful terminal that I have ever been in is this one:…Delta within the US may be meh – but the terminal I hope lives forever. Really gorgeous, and makes me want to go back to the golden age of airports and flying.

  72. Moe Ibrahim

    Singapore Airlines is hands down the best airline in Asia. I’d rather fly international airlines versus a domestic airline any day.

  73. Shripriya

    SQ (Singapore Airlines) is the best of all the international airlines. If you are coming to Asia, fly SQ. Beats every other airline. Then I’ll get to see you too 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      is SQ short for Singapore Airlines?

      1. Shripriya

        Yes. I edited it to fix that since it wasn’t clear. SQ is the code for Singapore Airlines like BA is for British and LH for Lufthansa. Flown them all (and of course, the terrible US carriers) and SQ is in a different league.

        1. fredwilson

          that’s what i hear consistently in this threadi wish we were flying them to Japan

          1. gregorylent

            japan, fly to haneda, not narita, you’re already in tokyo

          2. fredwilson


  74. takingpitches

    Keeping the incredibly low bar of domestic US airlines in mind, Hawaiian Airlines from NYC to Honolulu was an amazing flight this summer; admittedly the destination does not hurt the mood on the flight either.I used to love the chocolate chip cookies baked in-flight on MidWest Air.I fly the Delta Shuttle a lot to DC. Not a bad experience, all things considered.Internationally, we had a nice experience on Cathay from JFK->Bangkok and TAM from JFK->Rio. Avoid Air India to anywhere at all cost!

  75. Michael Wolfe

    I love Virgin but love JetBlue more.The reason: legroom. JetBlue made the decision a few years ago to remove seats from their planes, allowing two classes of economy, both with more legroom than any other domestic airline (34″ and 36″).Virgin is great, but you still run the risk of having someone’s seat in your face/smashing your laptop the entire trip.

  76. matthughes

    For flying up and down the West coast, Alaska Airlines is very respectable.Their regional carrier, Horizon Air, features 8 college team paint schemes. I have flown on all of them.Pic of University of Washington enclosed:

    1. ShanaC

      I actually find this very cool.

      1. matthughes

        Yeah, it’s fun.I’ve flown on all eight but only started taking pics recently. I have six of the eight.I actually look forward to the tarmac in the event one of the missing schools is out there.It’s the small things when you travel.

  77. dgay07

    I have traveled to Asia many times over the last 3 years and frequently go to Europe. I am based in Boston. I am also a die hard Star Alliance guy, critical for flight cancellations and security. Fred, would recommend signing up for the global entry,, program to make immigration easier as you come back into the US and it automatically enrolls you in TSA-pre for domestic travel, it costs $100 and it is a simple, but inconvenient interview with customs at the airport.As for Airlines, always try to fly Asian airlines on any route overseas- the service and food are so far above any other airlines- favorites Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Korean Air- If you go to Japan its worth taking Japan Airlines non-stop from Boston on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. United non-stop to Mumbai out of Newark is fantastic- great service and entertainment.To Europe, Virgin Atlantic business- full lay down seats and the lounge in Heathrow is worth hanging out in. Lufthansa only if you have to, service and food is no good, but if you get first class it changes the game, chili crab ravioli from Frankfurt to Boston on my last flight.Any flights under 3 hours I don’t care too much and usually go the cheap route and hope for upgrades. Hope this helps.

  78. David DiAngelo

    I just returned from an 8 month sabbatical traversing the globe. Needless to say, I spent quite a bit of time in the air. I had never flown Emirates before this trip, but was blown away by them. Hands down the best airline experience that I’ve had.

  79. Lucas Wilk

    I love the Toronto-based Porter Airlines for Central Canada/Eastern US. destinations. Nothing beats Porter for Chicago/Toronto/Montreal/NYC/Boston/Washington trips. Internationally it’s certainly Lufthansa, Turkish Airways, LOT (Poland) and BA. I avoid any kind of American airline as much as possible.

  80. Anonymous

    LAN in South America is great. Avoid air Mozambique if possible.

    1. ijuarez

      yes, LAN in my opinion is the best airline in this region,

  81. PhilipSugar

    As everyone has said Singapore is the best. The service is not to be believed. I woke up once and the stewardess was tucking me in and making sure my neck was not crooked.US Airlines are what they are because of the price competition. MGM used to have an all first class from NYC to Vegas or LAX. Went out of business because people wouldn’t pay.For US carriers (I fly 100k a year for the last twenty years) I’ll take USAir. That is partly because I am out of Philly and of course the difference between having Chairman status and not is key. As we like to say they might suck but everybody else blows.United (used to be my carrier) got horrible the second they did they employee ownership. I tried to upgrade last year in their club in Chicago, the woman told me with a smug look that she couldn’t do it because they saved those seats for employees. At the club! Continental got dragged down in the mud when the sold.American, what can I say they fly with first class cabins open just to spite people. USAir makes sure every seat is full even if they just bring up servicemen which is great by me.Delta. Well its seems you can’t get anywhere with them including heaven without going through Atlanta and I just always seem to get screwed there.Southwest used to be good for short trips, but they put in a policy where they don’t charge you a change fee but charge you for a “first class” ticket. That killed them with the business traveler. You used to love the fact you could show up and if there was a space you got it no hassle at all.So I am with USAIr. Yes I know for those with no status it probably sucks, but as I sit here with 784,493 miles in my account right now, I pretty much get anything I want within reason. I sit in 1A where they have the power outlet for the vacuum cleaner. (I know I’m not supposed to use it but they turn the other way) They pickup the phone on the first ring and ask how I’m doing, they got my wife and kids back when my wife’s grandmother died, they got me back from Vegas the day Philly opened from Sandy. Yes the service is spotty. West crews are much better than USAir crews. I could go on a diatribe about flight crews but suffice to say 25% are bad, 50% are ok, 25% are great.

  82. kenberger

    I’m a cheapskate and sucker for flexibility and freedom to make last minute reservations. So my answer on “favorite” is that it’s a tie for most of the burgeoning new short-haul discount airlines popping up constantly, in the Ryanair model.The key is to use in Europe, kayak and a couple others elsewhere– I use these services on almost a daily basis.The airlines i’ve taken include Wizzair (Hungarian, super cheap around eastern europe), jetstar in Australia/NZ, airasia and TigerAir (amazing value for odd routes like Hanoi to Myanmar), LionAir in Indonesia. Virgin Blue in Australia is a rare example of a major airline succeeding with this model– they aren’t even a sacrifice in comfort.To Saigon from the US, Korean Air is the only carrier we even trust.

  83. scotlandpaul

    I signed up a while ago for Surf Air. which seems a really great idea (from a passenger point of view, the business profitability (or lack of) part mystifies me). All you can get on a private jet for a fixed monthly fee of less than $1000. Still isn’t flying yet. If it comes true and works….it’s almost dreamlike! I think they are still trying to get approved by FAA etc.

  84. kenberger

    Also fun to remember the now-defunct airlines: Laker, People Express, and Tower Air come to mind.Tower was a nasty-attitude, foul-smelling service that got you from its own hangar at JFK to LAX, SFO, London and a couple other places on double-decker 747’s. It was my only option in my 20’s.People could never exist post-911. They’d come round to your seat and collect the fare. 1 time, they forgot me! I’d fly them Newark to Burlington, VT for $30 to go skiing in high school.Laker got me to Europe for my first trip in 1981.

  85. aminTorres

    I don’t always fly but when I do, I prefer JetBlue… Stay Jetting my friends!

  86. John Q. Huang

    Asia route: service wise, Singapore Airlines by far is the best, they have 4 stewardesses for every 20 rows; their airplane is always the world’s newest, all the bells and whistles (touch screen TV, lighting, AC etc…) are top quality; food is fresh and always has a wide variety.Europe: Turkish Airline is prob the best from a cost-effective / service quality pov

  87. brianwats

    I don’t take many International flights (…yet), and most of my travel is between 3 places: NYC, SFO, and MCO (Orlando). As a result, I really like JetBlue.JetBlue:1. covers these routes *all* the time2. doesn’t have seat classes. i don’t like the “i’m better than you because i spend more money” vibe3. offers “extra room” seats at a reasonable price, unlike Virgin4. are planning to offer their own FREE wifi service in 2013 – I really hate Gogo

  88. Gordon Bowman

    I don’t mind the lighting and feel so Virgin still rules in my book. A lot of it has to do with the new terminal 2 in SF though. I love that building.

  89. Saket

    I recently got upgraded to Business Class on a Flight from Dubai to SFO on Emirates. Quite possibly the best/most comfortable 15 hours on a plane. I can definitely get used to that.

  90. Paul Miller

    Haven’t flown with them for a while but Porter Airlines out of Toronto were really good. Felt like they treated everybody as if they were in business class.

  91. Chun Yi

    Singapore Airlines & JAL

  92. maria

    Virgin because of the entertainment. So we tried to ask this too. What’s your favourite airline?

  93. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I am really surprised that KLM has not jumped into this conversation – they have one of the best social media strategies for an airline company! Also, I should add Porter Airlines in Toronto is another great airline for those doing short trips from Toronto

  94. Guest


  95. Aaron Klein

    70,000+ miles on Delta so far this year. Wifi on almost every plane and it goes almost everywhere I need to go. Can’t beat it. Loyalty pays.

  96. Chuck Reynolds

    I fly about 150,000 miles a year mostly regional with some cross-country. I fly Delta whenever I can. I think Delta nails it on regional carries (non-CRJ-100) and the mainline fleet. The product is great, the experience is complete (and everything is “on-brand”) and the employee, I have found, like their jobs and are happy to be there.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I have thought about switching to them….see my comments below. Couple of questions…do they have first class on regionals? That is by far the best on USAir, and have they gotten rid of their policy that you have to talk on a phone bank if you’re flight is screwed? I can’t see how they don’t see the irony of making somebody that travels on a plane because they believe in doing business in person talk on a phone.

  97. Holger Luedorf

    It depends on whether you fly business or coach. Personally, my favorite flights to Asia have been on Singapore Airlines (their business class is second to none) and ANA, which has actually a decent set up in their Economy+.Otherwise, I am hooked to United/Lufthansa and Star Alliance in general for the mileage and upgrades etc.In general I agree, US airlines cannot compete with some of the international carriers on comfort and in-flight quality of food, entertainment etc.Key features for me are wifi (I just flew Lufthansa trans-continental for the first time with wifi and it was amazing – it was like a full work-day for me and I got a lot of stuff done), leg-room, and the entertainment offering. I don’t care so much about the food as I usually bring on my own sandwich and fruit.

  98. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I travel via Skype nowadays.

  99. DonRyan

    My favorite airline was Jet Blue. They don’t fly out of Columbus any more (the only other market they’ve ever left was Nashville). I fly Delta now almost exclusively, around 100K miles per year. I don’t love them nor do they love me but I do get upgraded a lot. Flying to me is a necessary evil. It’s how I go to work.

  100. Steven Cruz

    British Airways is the only airline, I truly enjoyed. Not only did I have my personal touch screen television filled with tv shows, movies, unreleased music (in economy class!), I had so much leg room and surprisingly enough my meal was good.Have never flown Virgin … saw a piece on it Bloomberg. It’s first flights looked like a complete party.

  101. Gus Fuldner

    Midwest Express was by far the best airline in the US from the late 1980’s up through 2007. It had 2×2 leather extra wide seating in the whole plane, baked on board cookies, real meals, and friendly staff. Unfortunately it sucumbed to pressure from AirTran/Southwest on its Milwaukee hub along with a buyout from TPG a hostile takeover offer, sale to Frontier and eventual shutdown by Frontier earlier this year.Milwaukee went from a market with modestly above average fares but awesome service to a low fare ultra competitive market for about 3 years, and is ending up as a high-price, low-service city served almost entirely by Delta and Southwest. It one of the saddest corporate stories I have ever seen and shows how difficult the US airline industry is.I’m not a fan of the lighting on Virgin America either but it is often the best option out of SF despite that.Outside the US my favorites are:Cathay Pacific / DragonAirSingaporeBritish AirwaysLufthansa

  102. Dan

    Give me Southwest all the time on the domestic side. They leave on time and because you get to pick your seat in realtime, you never sit between two fat guys.

  103. Aanarav Sareen

    Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines. Great service on the ground and in the air.

  104. William Mougayar

    Interesting worldwide rankings of Passenger Satisfaction, and this concurs pretty much with the readers here. Wow, there isn’t a single US airline on the top 20, and Virgin America is #26 to put things in perspective …1 Qatar Airways2 Asiana Airlines3 Singapore Airlines4 Cathay Pacific Airways5 ANA All Nippon Airways6 Etihad Airways7 Turkish Airlines8 Emirates9 Thai Airways International10 Malaysia Airlines11 Garuda Indonesia12 Virgin Australia13 EVA Air14 Lufthansa15 Qantas Airways16 Korean Air17 Air New Zealand18Swiss Int’l Air Lines19 Air Canada20 Hainan AirlinesSource: http://www.worldairlineawar

    1. Taebo

      Beeing Swiss, I was amazed not to see SWISS in here. I know that it’s kind of expensiver in comparison with others, but on the other side a no-problem-policy make you win money. I was once one day too early to my flight, due to a stupid reservation. The flight I wanteed to take was full booked. They propose me to wait and see at the departure gate if one of the passenger might not show up. Fortunately once didn’t, and I was in for a business flight! Allways great personal and safe-felling planes.

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s #18 on that list. I’ve taken Swissair a few times and was very pleased.

  105. Irving Fain

    I loved Singapore airlines when i flew them, but sadly don’t get enough opportunities. Also a fan of Qantas, but that could also be because I’m always excited about where I’m headed when I’m on a Qantas plane!In the US, I understand what you’re saying about Virgin, but I love the atmosphere, service and most importantly the fact that every seat has power. Worth the price increase alone when you fly to the west coast.

  106. Micah Baldwin

    One thing I like about the Virgin lighting is the science that went into it.



    1. Luke Chamberlin

      I hate the no assigned seating.Although I imagine that isn’t a problem for you. You sit wherever you like.

    2. Caleb Kemere

      Gotta second the shoutout for Southwest. It’s all about attitude – their flight attendants are happy 90% of the time, they always do their best for their customers, and though their prices have recently gone up, the lack of change fees still gives them an edge on price in my book. Not sure when you’re going to fly? Just book three flights, and cancel the ones you don’t want, then bank the money for the next time…

  108. JamesHRH

    I am going to plug WestJet for domestic NA flights – free live TV, even 15 years in the staff are still pretty friendly / competent, code sharing has not totally screwed them up in the last 3 years, rolling back on time ( after a period where that ball was dropped).Over my shoulder, my wife votes for Air Canada, but only for overseas flights with the lie flat Biz Class beds, otherwise AC is, well, not so much.

  109. Andrew Romans

    BA stands for Best Airline. Lufthansa is basically “German Airlines” if you accept that Hans is code for “German bloke” and Luft means airline and SA means Societe Anonyme or Inc / Ltd…. Luft Hans (SA)

  110. nycloyalblue

    Fred, I have to give a shout out for JetBlue. Okay, I admit that I work there butwe are not only New York’s hometown airline, we offer a consistently great experience and we have an amazing terminal in T5 at JFK. JetBlue’s a company with a strong culture and people who walk the walk. I hope you’ll give us a try, come by and see us in T5 or maybe visit us in our new spectacular headquarters in the Brewster Building in Long Island City.

  111. Prokofy

    Korean Air — absolute best, bar none. Imagine making a 14-hour-flight a joy!

  112. nick l

    Last year I logged a couple hundred thousand miles, mostly in between the US and Asia. Like others, I highly prefer Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. ANA is a good option if you’re going to Japan.These Asian carriers have nicer planes, better seats, and tastier food. Yet it’s the service that elevates them so far above the US carriers. The staff members are friendly and helpful. They treat you like a human, even in economy class!So simple and yet so hard to execute in the US.

    1. William Mougayar

      That’s a theme that keeps coming back. I’m baffled that North American flight service isn’t as friendly as in Asia or the middle-east who steal the top 20 ranks roughly. Is it unions, culture, management or what?

      1. nick l

        All of the above.In the case of the airlines, the staff seem to like and enjoy their jobs. My understanding is that the jobs are attractive in terms of pay and status (maybe like being a Pan Am attendant back in the day?) so the airlines can select the best and most enthusiastic. Management can certainly fire the staff much more freely. Contrast to the plight of the unionized US carriers.Perhaps we’ll need to revisit the relative service levels in 30 years and see if the difference was a point in time or something sustainable. My guess is some of both.

        1. William Mougayar

          I’m baffled by how unhappy most flight attendants seem to be. It’s like you can read on their face “I hate my job, but I’ll do you a favor and serve you.”

  113. andyidsinga

    i pretty much like flying on anything that flys ..with or without a motor 😉 .i love airplanes.i once flew in a canadian c-130 ..and they opened up the back door! ..that was a flight to remember 🙂 the seats were pretty much like lawn chairs

  114. andyidsinga

    i flew on an aeroflot flight from north to south over lake baikal. prop plane, loud. cold as hell and awesome. [ now im just bragging – but i did mention an airline ]

  115. Bus Hire Durban

    In South Africa we have a few great airlines – luxurious and confortable. SAA and of course BA who offers domestic flights as well.However, we also seen at least two local airlines fold as a result of not being able to keep with operating costs.Nevertheless – top airlines for us are: British Airways and SAA.

  116. Cam MacRae

    Singapore, Emirates, Qantas, Cathay.

  117. Guest

    I wish we were able to judge pilots and not just lighting, service, seats, etc. They are the most important part of the airline experience. A good pilot will land you on the Hudson. A bad pilot might put you in the Atlantic Ocean.

  118. LE

    The reason everyone has a problem with particular airlines and flying is a result of deregulation which turned it into a bus trip.It also causes safety concerns. A profitable airline is going to be a safer airline. A airline (which is most of them) always worrying about profitability will have to cut corners. It’s amazing we don’t have more accidents.We are seeing this by the way in the power industry with the storm repairs.Allowing competition to save people a nominal amount of money on their electric bill when electric is so essential means the power companies can’t spend as much on being prepared. I always thought that it was obvious. It’ takes money and profitability to be prepared and have standby equipment and manpower.Note that all the politicians that succumbed to outside influence in allowing competition weren’t simultaneously making sure that the electric grid was rock solid which is much more important than saving the retiree a few dollars a month on their electric bill.

  119. Donna Brewington White

    Fun Friday is not as fun if it isn’t Friday — I love the tone that the interaction often takes on Fridays. Am I doing something wrong? Friday is often my busiest day of the week!Anyway, I generally fly United — partly because I have flown this airline so often that I know the drill and of course miles/upgrades, but also because it may be the only major U.S. airline on which I have not had some sort of debacle. Overall, I have been very pleased with United. I was concerned about the Continental merger because Continental was one I avoided whenever possible — but so far, so good.I did try Jet Blue recently — had always wanted to — and it was a great experience. I will try this airline again.

    1. John McGrath

      I’ve had unpleasant experiences with United, albeit relatively minor ones–standard airline poor customer service. But this strikes me as a debacle:

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Yep, that is definitely a debacle of the highest order.It strikes me that many of my airline frustrations have come from how situations were handled — sometimes even worse than the original complaint. Good customer service covers a multitude of sins.I have never had a serious enough problem on United to push their customer service envelope. Based on this story I hope I never do.

  120. pointsnfigures

    Singapore Air. Business Class. Didn’t want to get off the plane.

  121. arunpc

    Singapore Airlines. Every single time.

  122. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    Perspective is a beautiful thing.For an African, US airlines would be a breath of fresh air.For Americans, European airlines are more efficient.For Europeans, we look forward to the warmth and comfort of Asian airlines like Emiratesand Singapore.

  123. Manuel

    Yeah, my airline favourites: Lufthansa, Swiss and Cathay.

  124. petrolhead

    I am very much overwhelmed by your thoughts for this particular story. A more deeper and staged knowledge would be good for me.