Anyabwiles’ Best Ratings on International Flights
It’s Friday. Let’s keep it light. This is perhaps the last debrief post from our recent travels and I thought I’d say a few words about the flights and airlines we traveled. On the whole, we had an excellent experience. But there were ways in which some companies stood out above the rest. You’ll notice that not one U.S.-based company is mentioned. That’s because in comparison to nearly every other major international carrier the U.S. companies charge the most money for the least service and treat you like you’re an inconvenience to them! So, what follows are honest-to-goodness no-bias ratings from the Anyabwile clan.
Best At-the-Gate Service: Qantas
For many of us, human contact with the airlines occurs first at the ticket counter and the gate. Sometimes the counter personnel set the tone for the entire flight. Folks who are disinterested and perhaps rude at the gate can ruin a trip for at least the first several minutes. That’s why I really appreciated the good folks at Qantas. They were friendly and eager to serve. At the gate, when a sizable percentage of passengers were late due to a gate change, they encouraged folks not to rush, waited gladly on stragglers, and empathized with those who felt the company hadn’t given sufficient notice of the change.
Best Safety Videos: Air New Zealand
Entertaining, creative, funny and informative. It’s all the stuff you normally tune out, only now you can’t resist it.
Best Plane Designs: Air New Zealand
Our Kiwi friends have found a way to milk the success of The Lord of the Rings for all its worth. And it results in some really creative ink on their birds. This one combines Hobbit design with the company’s Maori-inspired tail insignia. Well done!
Best On-Board Service: Qantas
The national carrier for Australia proved itself thoughtful of passengers and their needs. We loved the little goodie bags with toiletries and sleeping masks. Attendants really attended your needs, being present without being intrusive, treating you as if you were the client rather than an inconvenience. When airplane travel can feel a little like a cattle drive, the crew and staff of Qantas actually made the trip a joy. Plus, they served ice cream as a treat! Big hit with the kids (and me!).
Honorable mention for Qatar which gave circulation socks.
Friendliest Crew: Air New Zealand
From the Maori greeting to playing with the kids to make them comfortable to the extended visit in the cockpit with the pilots, New Zealand hospitality was on display in full. It’s difficult to remain cheerful for an entire trans-Atlantic flight, but this crew did. They were appropriately playful and joyful with all.
Best Airline Meal: Qatar
I’d long given up on ever having airline meals that tasted like food or didn’t pulverize my insides. So, one would think this would be an easy category to win because most food is so bad. But, not only did Qatar win this category easily, they did so because the food was pretty good! Sausage and eggs tasted like sausage and eggs. So did the chicken! I enjoyed the meals so much on our 22 hours of flight time with them that I ate my sleeping daughters’ plates, too. What? They were sleep and weren’t going to eat it. Waste not want not, I always say!
Cleanest Airplanes: Air New Zealand
Nothing more essential to a long flight than clean bathrooms and clean air. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a cleaner plane than the Air New Zealand flights we took. Even sitting near the restrooms wasn’t a problem. Scented lotions and air fresheners kept the cabin bright and breathing enjoyable.
Best Outfits: Air New Zealand
Some airlines seem to pick the frumpiest, most burlap sack looking get-ups they can find. No personality. Not so with Air New Zealand. The female attendants wore dresses that could move effortlessly from airplane aisle to main street office. Nice Maori-inspired printed designs eliminated the blah monochrome approach of most airlines. At least one Maori academic thought the print wasn’t elegant enough to show the best of Maori design, but as a newcomer to the culture I found the uniforms attractive.
Honorable mention: Qatar. I liked the nod to veils made by the female attendants’ hats.
Best In-Flight Movie Selection: Qatar
Okay. Let’s be honest. This is the most important category for long flights. Nothing is quite as frustrating as being stuck in the middle of the row in a crammed seat with the guy in front of you leaning back into your lap and no ability to escape it all with a good movie. You want a great screen that actually responds to the on-screen buttons you touch. You want some recent blockbuster movies along with some classics. If you’re traveling with the family you need a good selection for everyone from toddler to grandparent. That’s precisely what you get on the nice wide screens of Qatar Airlines.
I think overall quality goes to Air New Zealand. But all the company’s mentioned here are worth flying. I hear great things about Emirates, but I’ve never flown them. Perhaps one day. Happy flying!