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Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Cathay Pacific have been voted the world's best international airlines in the Zagat.com 2010 airline survey.
The 8,000 frequent fliers who took part in the surve, and collectively made almost 140,000 flights in the past year, chose Singapore Airlines as having the best premium (or business) class as well as economy class.
Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Qatar all share second place on the business class ladder, closely followed by Air New Zealand.
Emirates and Air New Zealand tied as second-best for economy fliers, followed by Cathay Pacific and ANA. Virgin Atlantic got the gong for the best international in-flight entertainment.
The Zagat survey asked participants to rank airlines on a 30-point scale regarding comfort, service, food and the quality of their website. Subjects such as timeliness, check-in and luggage policy and in-flight entertainment were also covered.
Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Cathay Pacific were all ranked higher on that 30-point chart than any of the domestic US carriers, with scores of 28/30 and 26/30 compared to a 'best in US' 24/30 for Virgin America's domestic business class and 21/30 for Virgin American's economy class. Delta copped the biggest hiding from passengers with a score of just 11/30 for its economy class.
Zagat also rated America's best and worst airports: Portland International remains the favourite, while the busiest hubs of JFK, LAX and Miami International found themselves near the bottom of the chart. In last place, for the fourth year in a row, in New York's LaGuardia Airport.
When asked how they react to fees for checked luggage, 45% of surveyors say they try to avoid flying such airlines; 42% say they have frequent flyer status on an airline that waives luggage fees; 33% say they travel only with a carry-on, and 18% grudgingly opt to pay the fees.
Zagat also offers up a sampling of responses from the survey, with the names of the airlines removed for legal reasons.
- "When two crummy medium-size airlines merge, all you get is a crummy large airline."
- "The only thing missing is a blindfold and a cigarette."
- "A violation of the Geneva Convention."
- "Staff must use Orwell's 1984 as a training manual."
- "Only an option when it's the only option."
- "Like a cattle car, except the cows are mercifully slaughtered at trip's end."