Best International Airlines for Business Travel
Even as long-haul carriers enter a sort-of arms race to lure business travelers, piling ever more luxuries into their cabins (or "residences," in the parlance of Etihad), Singapore Airlines continues to stay ahead.
Legendary for its in-flight service and culinary program, the carrier began installing new cabin amenities last fall that will be rolled out to the entire 101-aircraft fleet by the end of next year. Every seat is getting a new entertainment system, with video touch screens that start at an industry-leading 11.1 inches in economy; multitasking handsets; social media functionality; and content recommendations based on user preferences.
Experienced fliers agree that Singapore Airlines is the one to beat, voting it the No. 1 international airline in the Best in Business Travel survey conducted by Travel + Leisure and Fortune. Virgin Atlantic came in second, with Emirates, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific rounding out the top five.
In Singapore Airlines' business class, 78-inch lie-flat beds come with improved storage for personal items, including laptops, and smarter placement of lighting and outlets. BMW Group Designworks developed the new first-class seating with a curvy shell shape for added privacy, a mattress layer, and an 82-by-35-inch bed that is now one of the industry's largest.
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The airline is also creating a premium economy cabin, which will launch in the second half of 2015 on Boeing 777's and soon after on the Airbus A380. Expect it, like everything else Singapore develops, to reset the bar. —Greg Oates
No. 1 Singapore Airlines
Famous for its above-and-beyond service, Singapore Airlines offers first-class suites with sliding doors as well as a roomier economy class with a 32-inch seat pitch. —Joe Yogerst
No. 2 Virgin Atlantic Airways
You can't book a trip to the moon on Virgin Atlantic just yet, but the edgy British carrier is part of the same corporate family that includes space-travel outfit Virgin Galactic. —Joe Yogerst
No. 3 Emirates
Since its launch in 1985, the Dubai-based airline has raised the bar on in-flight luxury and entertainment with innovations like onboard shower spas, cocktail lounges, and private suites with vanity table, mirror, and wardrobe. —Joe Yogerst
No. 4 Qantas Airways
Long considered one of the world’s safest airlines, the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (to use its original name) is also one of the oldest commercial carriers, tracing its roots to 1920. —Joe Yogerst
No. 5 Cathay Pacific
The sleek Hong Kong carrier was started by two American and Australian pilot buddies who earned their wings flying "The Hump" between Burma and China during World War II. —Joe Yogerst
No. 6 Korean Air
Expanding into bespoke services offered by few large carriers, Korean now boasts eight-passenger private Learjet connections from the airline’s U.S. gateways to anywhere in the country. —Joe Yogerst
No. 7 Air New Zealand
As the "official airline of Middle-earth," ANZ has branded two Boeing 777s with Hobbit imagery and is about to launch a new safety video featuring characters from the Hobbit Trilogy filmed in New Zealand.
No. 8 Swiss International Air Lines
A longtime favorite with business travelers, Swiss offers an arrival lounge at Zurich International Airport where incoming passengers can take a shower, sample a breakfast buffet, or check the Internet. —Joe Yogerst
No. 9 Lufthansa
Germany's national carrier is also Europe's largest airline, serving 235 destinations in 79 countries during the peak summer travel period. —Joe Yogerst
No. 10 Turkish Airlines
Winner of the Skytrax "Europe's Best Airline" award for four straight years, Turkish is one of the rising stars of international passenger aviation. —Joe Yogerst