What Makes A Good Airline ?

When commercial aviation first began, airlines were regarded with a mixture of awe and apprehension. For most people, the very idea of actually flying in a heavy mechanical contraption was an amazing feat. To others, being able to fly to distant lands in a relatively short span of time was a wonderful dream, usually beyond their reach. But to most people, a company that ran scheduled flights to exotic corners of the globe was a glamorous and powerful entity…an awesome corporation that owned impressively-expensive aeroplanes and employed some of the best-looking people around.

Now about seven decades later, air-travel has become quite commonplace, with millions of people flying every day. Airlines compete vigorously for passengers, and air-travellers often have several options on the carrier they want to use on a particular route. It is at such times that the question arises:-what makes a good airline?

We think that question is easily answered with four “S” factors: Safety, Security, Schedules and Service. In one sense, the safety record of an airline is easy enough to measure – has it ever had accidents, and if so, how many? Was it every responsible for any or all of them? For those within the aviation industry, a little digging would unearth more facts – what is the airline’s rating with insurers and governing bodies like IATA and ICAO, for example?

Security is a little harder to quantify. Much of an air-traveller’s security is the responsibility of airport authorities, local governments and even appointed ground-handlers. Nevertheless, how an airline makes its passengers feel secure is very much part of its intrinsic appeal.

Schedules form another area that is often beyond an airline’s control. The time an aircraft lands and takes off is sometimes determined by the governing authorities who issue time-slots. Similarly, flight delays are often due to traffic congestion, weather, missing passengers, runway clearance and other factors that an airline has very little control over. However, some airlines have built up an enviable record of on-time performance, with convenient time-slots as well.

Service is the key factor by which an airline is judged, and this itself consists of various elements such as pre-flight attention, checking-in, luggage handling, in-flight service and ease of disembarkation. Other ingredients in a successful image include a good frequent-flyer programme, well-planned business lounges, and of course a distinctive and attractive corporate identity – preferably with a sense of place and national character.

To us as frequent flyers who travel extensively around the world, however, certain airlines stand out from the crowd for specific attributes. In our own quirky and entirely subjective evaluation, these are our Best Airlines Of The World. … read all about them here.