World's best airlines

Singapore Airlines is No.1 for the 17th straight year. (Photo: Courtesy of Singapore Airlines)

Buckling your airplane seat belt and weight-loss personality Richard Simmons aren't things you'd necessarily think go together. But if you flew on Air New Zealand in the recent past, that's who may have video-instructed you how to buckle up.

Great companies always think outside the box, and Air New Zealand is no exception. In the most recent Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards survey, the Kiwi airline came in No. 2. And while readers didn't specifically rank in-flight entertainment, ANZ's fresh, amusing spin on the standard safety video surely gave passengers a memorable impression of the airline.

The factors our readers did vote on, across 76 global airlines: cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value, and food. No one was surprised to see Singapore Airlines topping the list; they've been the No. 1 airline for the past 17 years. And they must be doing something right—they didn't even have Richard Simmons entertaining their passengers.

No. 1 Singapore Airlines

For the 17th year in a row—ever since T+L inaugurated the World’s Best Awards—Singapore Airlines has been readers’ overall favorite. This year, the airline came out on top in every category: cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service, and value. The 32-inch seat pitch in economy class helps, as do the flight attendants, famous for their above-and-beyond service and sarong and kebaya uniforms. Bedtime turndown service is even part of the flying experience for those with pockets deep enough to book the A380 first-class suites that feature sliding doors, 23-inch TVs, and stand-alone beds hand-stitched by master Italian craftsmen Poltrona Frau.

(Photo: Courtesy of Air New Zealand)No. 2 Air New Zealand

The Kiwi carrier has been steadily climbing up the ranks of the world’s best airlines. Two years ago, Air New Zealand ranked seventh, and last year, it was fourth. Cabin comfort, food, and especially improved in-flight service vaulted it into the No. 2 position this year. T+L readers felt that the airline’s value had improved during the past year, and its innovative OneUp program, which allows you to bid for an upgrade seven days before you fly internationally, beats paying through the nose for business or first. Another popular innovation: cuddle class, an economy row of three seats that can convert to a bed.

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