By Kim Wildman
MSN NZ Travel writer
From check-in staff wrangling over luggage limits and long hours spent doubled-up in undersized seats to children crying and running around the aisles and harried flight attendants pushing drink carts into unsuspecting elbows flying really can be quite a harrowing experience. The good news is, it doesn't have to be. In fact, on some airlines you'll find the flight is as much a part of the holiday experience as the destination itself.
What airline do you prefer to fly and why? Have your say below.
Each year London-based consultancy firm Skytrax (www.airlinequality.com) polls millions of passengers around the world to find out which airlines are the cream of the crop.
According to their most recent survey released in 2007 the winners were:
1. Singapore Airlines
No stranger to awards, Singapore Airlines snatched the overall Airline of the Year title for the quality of both its economy and premium class services. From top-notch food to friendly flight attendants, any long-haul flight on this airline, which flies more passengers every year than the entire population of Singapore, is bound to be a pleasurable experience.
2. Thai Airways
Jumping up from fourth position in 2006, Thai Airways came in second place overall. Famous for its in-flight service and well-dressed cabin crew, the airline also won the Best First Class Lounge award for its lounge at Bangkok Airport which includes a Royal Spa complete with sauna and yoga classes. Oh to travel first class!
3. Cathay Pacific
A former title winner, Cathay Pacific performed well overall ranking in the top four or five positions in almost every section of the survey. The flagship carrier of Hong Kong is also one of only six airlines worldwide to carry Skytrax's prestigious five-star rating.
4. Qatar Airways
A relative newcomer, Doha-based Qatar Airways has drawn plenty of attention for its international service. While economy class passengers are treated to excellent in-flight service, with the airline taking out the Best First Class Airline tag, it's the first class passengers who, as usual, remain king.
Long celebrated for its exceptional flight safety record, Qantas has dropped from second place in 2006 to fifth place. Australia's leading airline, however, consistently performs well and its budget domestic carrier, Jetstar, was named the World's Best Low-Cost Airline.
6. Malaysia Airlines
Moving up three places from the previous year, Kuala Lumpur-based Malaysia Airlines also regained its crown for the world's Best Cabin Staff Award, snatched away by Thai Airways in 2006. Along with Cathy Pacific, it is one of only six airlines worldwide to hold Skytrax's five-star rating.
7. Air New Zealand
At last, New Zealand's flagship carrier has finally nudged its way into Skytrax's top 10. Long recognised locally for its quality passenger service, it's good to see this Kiwi icon taking on the world's best.
8. China Airlines
A surprising addition to this list is state-owned China Airlines, which in fact moved up two places from 2006. With its base in Taiwan not China, because of political tensions, passengers to and from mainland China must fly through a third port.
Consistently cited as one of the world's best airlines, Emirates is the largest Middle Eastern Airline. Based in Dubai, most of its flight attendants are recruited from overseas.
10. British Airways
Relying too heavily on past reputation, British Airways has slipped from its first place ranking in 2006 all the way down to 10th position. The founding member of the Oneworld travel alliance obviously needs to lift its game if it wants to regain the top spot.
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Have your say: what airline do you prefer to fly and why?