By now most of the elite travelers in our community have experienced Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad and the other renowned airlines which routinely top every traveler’s favorite list. But there are a few lesser known airlines with great hard and soft product which are definitely worth a look. These airlines usually offer a combo of long haul, regional or domestic routes and in some cases are affiliated with the big three airline alliances. And they often offer very good value for their premium cabins. So we definitely think these 5 airlines should be on your bucket list.
EVA is a Taiwanese carrier operating out of Taipei. It’s a Star Alliance member and has excellent connections to North America flying TPE to Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver and even Guam. But what sets them apart is their Royal Laurel Class business class product. It is essentially the same seat as Cathay offers with a service level that’s comparable. They’re a SYTRAX 5-Star airline and get extra marks for their Rimowa amenity kits which are among the industry’s finest. Learn more when we included them in Season 1.
Oman Air has perhaps the best business class hard product in the air. Yep that’s saying an awful lot but the seat is large, comfortable and can be converted to allow two people traveling together to actually dine together. It’s more of a first class seat. Oman Air is the national carrier of Oman and flies from their hub in Muscat. European routes include London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Milan and Zurich but they have good connectivity through the Middle East and India, some interesting African destinations and excellent flights to SE Asia and now even Guangzhou, China. Our advice is take advantage of their Oman stopovers and make your trip an extra special one. Learn more from when we featured them on the show.
Hainan is the little Chinese carrier that could. No longer small, Hainan Airlines under their parent company HNA Group are part of a Fortune 500 company which spans aviation, hotels, cargo and more. They own about 25% of Hilton, lots of very nice hotels and other carriers such as Hong Kong Airlines and more. But what separates Hainan from other Chinese carriers is their focus on the North American market and their exclusive use of all B787 Dreamliners with a very comfortable lie-flat business class product. They have some very interesting US routes connecting cities such as Beijing and Las Vegas or Los Angeles with Chongqing/Chengdu. They are a SKYTRAX 5-Star airline and definitely worth checking out. They often have great premium cabin fares.
Formerly called LAN, LATAM is a Latin American carrier which is part of the oneworld alliance and features great connectivity throughout South America and some very interesting international routes. Their long haul Premium Business seat is layflat on their new Dreamliners and A350s. It’s the same seat that Hainan and Turkish Airlines use. The soft product is reliable and very friendly and they often run very good deals from New York or Miami.
Bangkok Airways bills themselves as Asia’s boutique airline. They have a small fleet, offer lounge access to all passengers (admittedly its a rather limited lounge experience) and a fun, in flight experience. For domestic and regional destinations from Bangkok they are a great choice. The airline has a mix of Airbus A320 and A319s as well as their main stand by ATR72-500s and 600s. For short hops we really recommend them. For their longer routes to India there are definitely better choices. But if you are visiting exotic destinations like Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos on a SE Asia trip then they’re the carrier of choice.
Today there are many great airlines but because the luxury travel world has grown there are a few hidden gems. These 5 airlines represent the best of what the world has to offer but most aren’t well know. Let us know what you think.