Experience air travel at its best during the hectic travel season.
We all remember nightmarish winter travel stories from our favorite holiday movies. From rushing through crowded terminals to dealing with flight cancellations to losing luggage in transit, iconic holiday films remind us of epic travel blunders that arise during the busy holiday travel season. And while it's tricky to dodge winter travel headaches altogether, there are some airlines that make travel during the holidays relatively smooth and pain-free. Whether you're traveling with kids, seeking an airline with perks such as free Wi-Fi, elevated in-flight entertainment and cuisine or looking for a carrier with an easy rebooking process for weather-related delays, here are six top airlines for holiday travel.
Delta Air Lines
In the last few years Delta has quietly done a commendable job bringing its cabins up to speed. High-speed Wi-Fi is available on nearly all of Delta's planes. Plus, the airline has consistently delivered a high on-time performance during the holiday travel season in recent years. And Delta has made great strides to enhance its in-flight entertainment and cuisine, as well as general customer service, with added amenities such as free doughtnuts or bagels and coffee for early morning flights in most major hubs. Plus, if you hold Silver Medallion status (or higher) with the Delta SkyMiles program, when there are empty seats, you can enjoy a complimentary upgrade to a first-class seat.
If you are going to endure a long-haul flight from the U.S. to Europe over the holidays, consider flying with Air France. The carrier has invested in upgrading its planes with tech-savvy entertainment systems that provide over 1,000 hours of on-demand programming. Also, Air France has a best-in-class premium economy cabin with spacious economy seats. Even better, If you fly in a business-class seat, feature films are available in high-definition, screens are an oversized 17 inches and you can enjoy delicious meal service with cuisine options developed by the Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud.
Cathay Pacific offers scheduled passenger and cargo services to nearly 200 destinations in Asia, North America, Australia, Europe and Africa. Seasoned international jet-setters praise Cathay for its impeccable airport lounges, superlative kid's menu options (you can call in advance for any dietary needs) and innovative in-flight entertainment systems. And recently, the airline elevated its culinary offerings by partnering with celebrity chef Daniel Green to develop a vegetarian menu filled with options such as seared ahi tuna, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette and Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil, to cater to a variety of palates.
(Courtesy of Cathay Pacific)
Virgin America has won many best-in-class awards for its quality customer service and tech-forward amenities, including in-flight Wi-Fi and an in-flight entertainment platform with a touch-screen TV and an on-demand menu that allows fliers to order a cocktail or snack from their seat any time during a flight. Even better, Virgin Atlantic offers guests the ability to stream Netflix, making Virgin Atlantic the only airline to offer this service. If you're willing to splurge (or you're traveling with younger globe-trotters with picky preferences) Virgin Atlantic's premium economy cabin boasts a wide selection of complimentary snacks, from candy to chips to fresh fruit and other select British goodies.
(Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)
If you're heading to Australia to ring in the New Year with youngsters in tow, Qantas offers plenty of family-friendly perks. Kids have their own designated areas within airport lounges, a welcome amenity kit and their own entertainment channel. Meanwhile, adults can pick from more than 1,500 entertainment options on Qantas' Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 planes, making the nearly 24-hour flight from the East Coast much more comfortable. Plus, Qantas offers service to Australia and the Pacific from hubs in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu. What's more, you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting on long-haul flights, thanks to the airline's Sommelier in the Sky Program.
(Courtesy of Qantas Airlines)
Flying with Etihad Airways during the holidays (or any time of year) affords a lavish air travel experience. You can enjoy excellent cuisine, in-flight Wi-Fi and a top-notch entertainment system, regardless of which class of service you select. Plus, you'll have access to more than 120 movies and 300 TV shows. If you're looking to spring for the penultimate form of holiday travel, try the three-bedroom Etihad apartment in the sky, known as The Residence. Inside the first-class suite, guests can enjoy a private living room, a bedroom and shower room, as well as the service of a Savoy-trained butler, a gourmet in-flight chef and a concierge team, among other perks.