One of the most common things I get asked and one of the most common discussions I’ve had with fellow backpackers is which airlines are best to fly with? I’ve clocked up a fair few air miles over the years and I’ve taken note of every single experience to help you decide who’s worth booking with and who’s worth avoiding. Had any good or bad experiences!? Please share! :)
I flew with Air China from London to Sydney via Beijing when I first set off to Australia, the main factor I booked with them was because they were really cheap! The planes themselves had just been upgraded so were pretty modern and comfortable, the food was entirely Chinese food – even the breakfast which I struggled with a bit! Unfortunately the in-flight entertainment wasn’t working on the second leg of my journey which was a little annoying as it wasn’t a short flight. You definitely get what you pay for with this airline, it’s cheap for a reason but I’d definitely use them again for a shorter haul flight.
London – New York November 2012 – My first experience flying with Virgin’s airline and I have to say that the staff were excellent and very friendly and accommodating. They moved us to the emergency exit seats as they were empty and thought we’d appreciate the extra leg space, the food was good, the entertainment was good and the aircraft was very clean and modernised. Unfortunately we were almost 7 hours behind schedule arriving to NY due to an awful snow storm and the aircraft running out of fuel, however the staff and airline handled the situation exceptionally well and made sure everyone was as comfortable as possible with food and drink etc.
Multiple Domestic flights in America & Australia – they have all been fantastic and hassle free. It’s not the cheapest airline but personally, I think it’s worth paying the extra – there’s a reason it’s one of the best airlines in the world!
London – Johannesburg February 2016 – The planes had been upgraded since I last flew with them and they are spectacular. Economy was very comfortable and slightly more spacious than usual. The entertainment was great as was the food and the staff, I can’t fault them in any way. Virgin Atlantic is easily my favourite airline to fly with to date.
I flew with Delta Air from London to Boston because it was the most reasonable priced flight at the time, the aircraft was comfortable and the staff were helpful but the only issue I had with them is that one my return flight home they had overbooked the seats, thankfully some passengers volunteered to catch a flight the following day and Delta compensated them well with vouchers, an upgrade and a hotel for the night. They usually have pretty decent flight prices and deals and I’d recommend them to fellow travellers!
South African Airways
I have flown with SAA a number of times on the London to Cape Town flight and I’ve never been disappointed. The in flight entertainment is good, the staff were accommodating although on one flight to Johannesburg they were very loud when speaking to each other across the cabin when people were trying to sleep. All in all it’s a good airline to fly with, again it’s not the cheapest but it’s as comfortable as you can get flying on a long haul flight in economy!
This is definitely an airline where you get what you pay for. I caught a connecting flight from London to Sharm el Sheik via Cairo and both planes were really dated and the staff weren’t at all professional or accommodating. The entrainment was average as was the food, AND one of the flight attendants asked for my contact details so he could show me around Cairo! They’re mega cheap to fly with but overall I had a really unpleasant experience and would personally avoid flying with them in the future.
This airline does Britain proud! I’ve flown with them a number of times to and from America, South Africa and London and they are definitely in the world’s best airlines rankings, the aircrafts are always spotless and comfortable. The staff are always happy to help, all in all they exceed my expectations every time. Far from the cheapest airline but if you’re looking for comfort and a trustworthy company then BA make the cut!
I flew a short domestic flight in Thailand with Thai Smile and would definitely recommend them to other travellers on a budget, they’re basic but comfortable aircrafts and the staff are friendly – what more do you want on a cheap, short haul flight?!
I flew internally in Australia with this airline a number of times, the first time I was a little skeptical as I had heard mixed reviews and opinions but they were all really pleasant experiences. They have extremely cheap flights, perfect for backpackers as they sometimes work out cheaper then travelling by the Greyhound or train AND it’s cuts the time more than half! You do have to pay extras for luggage and your seat etc but if you find the right deal and calculate it correctly you can actually save heaps!
I flew long haul with Australia’s best airline from Brisbane to L.A and I can say that it’s best economy experience I’ve experienced EVER (so far!) Check in was easy peasy and the staff were absolutely lovely on the flight. The seating was comfortable with more room than you usually experience on an economy flight and the food was the best food I’ve had on a flight so far – I was constantly fed nice treats such as hotdogs, Malteasers and Cadbury’s hot chocolate! I slept well and they’ve thought of “the little things” that most airlines haven’t such as the side head rests on your seat – it’s the little things that count right!? It was definitely worth the little bit extra in price for a comfortable long haul flight!
Aer Lingus (Business Class)
This was by far the best flying experience I’ve ever had and probably will ever have! Business Class is a wonderful treat! You’re greeted with champagne and entrees and you even have a luxury wash bag! You can read about my experience in detail here but all in all I would recommend Aer Lingus to everyone, even if you can’t afford the Business Class seats the economy is still great and well looked after by the staff!