We love to fly. For flights more than two hours, we will fly business class or better. There is something wonderful about being away from the crowds and being waited on as we journey across the skies. Our vacation begins at the airport (and sometimes sooner if we stay at an airport hotel the night before).
Air travel should be fun, and we do our best to make it so.
We have included a list of airlines we have flown and recommend. We hope your experience is as good as ours.
Since we live in San Diego, California, it’s easy to cross the border and fly Aeroméxico (www.aeromexico.com), which we did from Tijuana to México City. As you might expect, the staff at the airport and on the plane are extremely friendly, and the service is excelente!
Sadly, we can’t say the same about Aeroméxico corporate. The last time we purchased tickets, they cancelled our flight two weeks before our travel date. In fact, they cancelled all flights to the country we were flying to, for reasons. When we called and asked for a refund, they told us our tickets were non-refundable.
Yes, you read that right. They sold us something, did not deliver it, and told us we could not get a refund. We have since learned that it’s a common practice with Aeroméxico, so they are permanently off our choice of airlines. 🙁
We flew Air Antilles (www.airantilles.com) from Dominica to Guadeloupe, less than 100 km, barely time to take off and land. When we boarded the aircraft, the crew had a sense of urgency: “Sit anywhere – we are about to leave.” The perfect airline for island hopping.
Since we live on the west coast of the US, Alaska Airlines (www.alaskaairlines.com) is one of the best airlines to get from here to anywhere in the US, with other 118 destinations. Plus, since they partner with so many other airlines, we can book through them and get to many other destinations around the world using Alaska points.
In 2009, we lived in the San Francisco area and flew to Rome. Alitalia (www.alitalia.com) had just opened a route, and naturally that’s the carrier we chose. It was a wonderful experience. The flight attendants were cheerful and welcoming, and — because the route was new — the plane had very few passengers on board. In fact, whole rows were empty. So we had lots of space, great service, and we were heading to romantic Italy. Can’t go wrong with that!
However, even if the flight had been full, I’m sure the service and destination would have been just as great.
We have been flying American Airlines (www.aa.com) since 1988 — I know because that’s how long we’ve been members of AAdvantage. We use their Admiral’s Club whenever we can; it’s can be a wonderful break from the chaos of the terminal. We recent flew on American Airlines from San Diego to St. Lucia, and returned from Guadeloupe (it was an open-jaw ticket; we were island hopping), and roundtrip from San Diego to Zurich, Switzerland, via NYC. Their flight attendants are very well trained and, more than once, I’ve commented, “Our vacation really began when we got on this flight.”
We flew Austrian Airlines (www.austrian.com) from Frankfurt, Germany to Athens, Greece, with a stopover in Vienna, Austria. We were in business class, and the aircraft on this particular route provided business class by simply not assigning anyone to the middle seat. Except for that peculiarity, it was the typical (great) experience we have flying business class in Europe.
We flew British Airways (www.britishairways.com) from San Diego, CA to London, England, and back. Outbound, we were in business class on an Airbus 350-1000, and had the type of layback seats you expect on a long distance, wide-body jet: the seats are spacious, every seat has aisle access, and there is a certain level of privacy.
The way home was a different story.
We were on a Boeing 777-200, with 4 classes.
We entered the aircraft and turned left. Ah, these look nice! Wait. Where are out seats? Oh, this is first class. We should have turned right.
In business class, the middle and window seats do not have aisle access; you have to climb over someone to get to your seat. Yes, the window seats have some privacy, but the aisle seats have none and all of the seats are very narrow.
In a civilized world, this is what long-haul economy would be like.
Basically, the best seats for long-haul business class travelers are on another airline.
And then there is British cuisine.
We flew Condor Airlines (www.condor.com) from Seattle, Washington to Frankfurt, Germany nonstop. I admit that I had never heard of Condor Airlines (they partner with Alaska Airlines) nor of its parent company, the Thomas Cook Group. Upon investigation, I discovered that Condor Airlines is a leisure airline with scheduled flights from Frankfurt to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and the Caribbean.
The service provided by the flight attendants in business class was so outstanding that we wrote a letter to the company complimenting them on the quality of their employees.
We had the pleasure of flying from San Diego to Louisville, KY via Atlanta, GA on Delta Airlines (www.delta.com) recently. Because our tickets were a gift from relatives, we booked Economy Plus. However, the day of the flight, we were able to upgrade to business class for only $100 each. Kickin’ back in Delta’s first class seats is the way to fly.
We booked a flight on Frontier (www.flyfrontier.com) from Missoula, MT, to San Diego, CA via Salt Lake City, UT. A few weeks before the flight, we received an email stating that our flight had been changed. It now went from Salt Lake City to San Diego, then, later in the day, went from Missoula to Salt Lake City. Yes, somehow they thought that was a reasonable route. A phone call to Frontier kept me waiting for 30 minutes before I hung up. I went to that Frontier desk at the San Diego Airport and was told they couldn’t help me. “You know, I can never fly Frontier airline again,” I told the agent. He just gave a look of, “My life is hell,” and apologized.
I wrote a letter to the airline, and cc’d the FAA and the credit card company. A few weeks later, the credit card company refunded my trip.
And that was the last time I ever considered Frontier Airlines.
In the past few years, we’ve flown to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines (www.hawaiianairlines.com) three times. From the moment we get on the plane, the Hawaiian Airlines crew puts us in the Aloha spirit. Their motto is “Hawaii flies with us,” and it’s true. Mai Tais, Hawaiian cuisine (Kalua Pork Hash with Kale and Chilled Mini Passion Orange Guava (POG) Pie by Hawaiian Pie Company, for example), Hawaii-themed uniforms for their staff – it’s why we love Hawaiian Airlines.
We had the pleasure of flying Iberia Airlines (www.iberia.com/us/) from New York to Madrid, Spain. We had excellent service and an outstanding crew, all of whom spoke Spanish with the cute Castilian ‘lisp’. 🙂
Iberia is the largest and principal Spanish airline company, as well as one of the oldest in the world. As a founding member of the oneworld airline alliance, Iberia operates 132 aircraft to 115 destinations across 42 countries.
We flew on Latam Airlines (www.latam.com) from Lima, Peru to Cusco, Peru. It was during the great Covid-19 Panic of 2020-2021, and the service was somewhat reserved, as in, after we boarded the plane, the flight attendants did not interact with the passengers at all. They microwaved something tasty for themselves, then closed the curtain to the galley as they had their meal.
However, their reservations help desk was very responsive when we needed to make a ticket change. So two thumbs up for that! ??
We flew on Lufthansa Airlines (www.lufthansa.com) from Frankfurt, Germany to Los Angeles, California, nonstop. We flew on a 747-800 on the upper deck. Business class in these “legacy” aircraft has a lot more room than in modern aircraft. There was even a storage bin next to the window seat which could accommodate more than a carry-on.
It was a wonderful experience to fly business class in The Queen of the Skies. I can only imagine what the first class experience might be. 😉
Olympic Airlines (www.olympicair.com) is a regional airline owned by Aegean Airlines. We flew roundtrip from Athens, Greece to the island of Samos, Greece, very near to Turkey. The aircraft had no first or business class to speak of, but it was pretty much just up-and-down because no parts of Greece are very distant from Athens. An easy, no-hassle voyage, the best part of which is looking out the window at the beautiful islands in the Aegean Sea.
We flew on Scandinavian Airlines (www.flysas.com) roundtrip from Oslo, Norway to Tromsø, Norway. The best part of flying SAS domestically is the window seat: Sweden, Norway, and Finland are beautiful! Blue skies, blue water, mountains, snow, and endless horizons.
It’s a perk: you fly, and you see beauty!
We have flown on Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com) dozens of times. They are low-cost without being low-service, and we’ve been able to change our itinerary on their website without extra fees. If you worry about finding a seat to your preference (window, aisle, front of plane, etc.), it’s worth upgrading when you purchase your ticket. However, they have no comparable business class, so we tend to use Southwest for shorter flights.
It’s always a pleasure flying with Southwest.
We flew roundtrip from Athens to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com), the largest carrier in the world by number of destinations. Although we don’t consider ourselves to be foodies, it is definitely worth flying Turkish Airlines International Business Class just to experience the superior meals; the food is the same quality you will find in finer restaurants.
The meals on the domestic flights are not quite as yummy and, be warned, no alcohol is served on domestic routes. However, Turkey is relatively small, so it’s unusual to be in the air for more than a couple hours.
For no particular reason, we have flown on United Airlines (www.united.com) only once, from Los Angeles to San Diego, California. It was a comfortable flight, just up and down. We hope to have more to write about this fine airline soon!