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Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar score at world airline awards

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, cathay pacific, Jetstar, etihad airways, Skytrax, Virgin Australia

Qantas has taken top spot in the 2012 World Airline Awards for its superb international first class lounge at Sydney Airport.

Australian Business Traveller has always considered the Qantas First Lounge as being truly 'world class' for its Neil Perry food, Payot spa, design and overall service, and this recognition as World's Best First Class Airline Lounge is past due

To appreciate what makes the Qantas First Lounge so special, check out are some of our exclusive articles:

The Red Roo also doubled up in premium economy, winning World's Best Premium Economy Class Airline and Best Premium Economy Class Onboard Catering.

Virgin Australia took the podium as Best Airline in the Australia-Pacific region, ahead of Qantas and Air New Zealand, while also garnering the gong for Best Staff Service.

Rounding out the Aussie trifecta was Jetstar, recognised as the region's Best Low-Cost Airline.

Cathay Pacific took the tophy for the World's Best Business Class Airline – another call we endorse, as the new seats are tops and the service, in-flight entertainment and lounges remain five star.

Check out our review of Cathay's new business class and our interview with the man in charge of creating them for all the details about why Cathay's seat is so popular.

However, considering just the business class seat by itself, that nod went to Oman Air.

Etihad triple-dipped in the World's Best First Class Airline, Best First Class Airline Seat and Best First Class Onboard Catering.

And the world's best airline overall for 2012? That went to Qatar for the second year running.

How the awards are, well, awarded...

The World Airline Awards are run by Skytrax (the company behind the Airline Equality website) and this year covered more than 200 airlines, with 18 million passengers from over a hundred different countries voting.

This makes it a pretty comprehensive airline passenger satisfaction survey, although it's driven more by the airlines than the passengers.

If you're signed up for an airline's frequent flyer emails, flip through the inflight magazine, browse its website or even walk through an airport you'll probably recall the pleading "vote for us!" advertisements.

What would you rate as the world's best airline? The best lounge? How about the best business class seat? Share your thoughts and discuss other readers' ratings below!

Keep up to date with the latest news for business travellers and frequent flyers: follow @AusBT on Twitter.


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 13/7/12 by AusFlyer

Well deserved for the Qantas First Lounge.

2 on 13/7/12 by Al

I find it hard to see why Skytrax has one award for Best Business Class and another for just the business class seat, what's the point of having a great seat if the rest of the equation is not up to scratch? Sounds to me more like they want to be sure that almost everybody gets an award!

Apart from that I agree with most of these calls: QF for best lounge and premium economy, Virgin as best Aussie/NZ airline, CX as best business class seat, in my experience those are all the right call.

1 on 14/7/12 by aero-seat

The business class seat goes to the design and comfort of the seat itself. Business Class Cabin is for the additions such as inflight entertainment, bar, food, drinks, lavatory availability etc.

3 on 13/7/12 by airtraveladdict

So Etihad's first class beat Emirates A380 and Singapore Airline's A380 suites?

must be one helluva service! LOL

4 on 13/7/12 by johnnysfo

An Astonishing year for VIRGIN with only a year and a half into the airline becoming Virgin Australia and already out pacing Qantas and Air NZ as Best Airline in the pacific/Australia region. Well deserved and well done Virgin Australia you have come along way and I'm sure that there is more to come from your arsenal of great team;-)

5 on 13/7/12 by jonom

Great to see both of Australia's biggest airlines in the top 20. We're all very lucky for the choice of 2 great airlines.

6 on 13/7/12 by songman

Some well deserved wins for our local airlines. I do think it's a point of concern that the overall ranking for Qantas has been slowly slipping over the last few years. Here's hoping they turn things around!

7 on 14/7/12 by moa999

Etihad seemingly gets the gong thanks to its First Class services, yet their Economy is horrid - 10across in a 777

Virgin has certainly improved in Australia but Flexi meals are average and Economy catering has gone downhill (nothing left on the menu), and then the joke of not having Business on TransTasman (to match AirNZ)

Qantas domestically suffers from the decrepit 767s - these should have got a refit five years ago, but hopefully additional A330s and the Project Alpha refresh on the 737s will drastically improve that product.

But for Garuda to be ahead of Qantas is a joke. Their A330 Business has a better seat than QF, but food/wine let them down. Even the international lounge in the home port of Jakarta is pretty average.

1 on 14/7/12 by John

Just a quick note: Etihad's 777 is nine-abreast in a 3-3-3 configuration. You may be thinking of Emirates, which has a ten-abreast 3-4-3...which is, indeed, fairly horrid.

1 on 14/7/12 by KS

Flew on Etihad Feb this year on their 777-300ER Abu Dhabi to KL, definitely 3-4-3 in Y cabin.......... Horrible!

1 on 14/7/12 by John

Ah, interesting: they seem to have added a 3-4-3 configuration to some of their 777-300ERs (without updating their fleet pages with different numbers or new seat maps). Looks like another airline to skip in 777 economy, then...

2 on 14/7/12 by Al

"Etihad seemingly gets the gong thanks to its First Class services, yet their Economy is horrid - 10across in a 777"

Etihad did get the gong for first class, moa999, they didn't win 'best economy class'.

8 on 14/7/12 by aero-seat

Someone should wake the Qantas Team up. This year Virgin Australia succeeded Qantas in 12th position at the awards, a major improvement from last year (where it was awarded 32nd place). Qantas now stands at 15th compared to 8th last year.

Lately, Virgin Australia has been raising the bar higher than the Red Roo after a report - later challenged by Qantas - said that DJ had flown more passengers than the national flag carrier, SRB slamming Qantas for running scared and now Skytrax saying Virgin is taking the lead.

Virgin Australia was also voted better than Qantas in inflight entertainment and cabin staff. Qantas took over Virgin in Best First Lounge and Best Premium Economy Cabin.

VA is named the third most improved airline this year behind China Eastern and Transaero Airlines

1 on 14/7/12 by Al

Are you forgetting that Skyrax is basically a massive customer satisfaction poll (not a proper 'survey' because it's self-sampling and self-driven) and during the survey period Qantas has its biggest ever customer satisfaction disaster, the unprecedental total grounding of all Qantas flights around the world? And that for months and months before this Qantas was subject to endless industrial action and strikes which caused a massive number of cancellations and general uncertainly for people booking next week or next month if their flights would even be running?

This would have been the BIGGEST reason for Qantas dropping so far, so this isn't really a 'wake up call' to management.

"Virgin Australia was also voted better than Qantas in inflight entertainment and cabin staff."

Cabin staff I can understand because the Virgin crew are invariably great on my flights but I don't understand how anybody could say Virgin has better inflight entertainment than Qantas!

Qantas has great IFE on its international flights and many domestic ones, including video on demand, while apart from the latest A330s and some of the older 737s Virgin has nothing and hands out tablets?

"Qantas took over Virgin in Best First Lounge and Best Premium Economy Cabin" Not quite right there, Virgin never had a 'best first lounge' or 'best premium economy' award so Qantas didn't really overtake Virgin in those categories.

9 on 16/7/12 by lorks

It is worthwhile looking at some of the more controvertial decisions of Skytrax in recent years:Qatar went from nowhere to absolute top number one status - odd, as the onboard service was only marginally improved. Hainan Airlines are good - but not that good. Best business seat on Oman? Really? And the domiance of Garuda is weird: they simply can not have won if you look at the number of people who travel on them compared to the number of people who fly on Qantas. And if you want odd decisions, there was the decision in 2001 to give Ansett five star status - the year it collapsed.

Do remember that Skytrax is a commercial organisation, which makes most of it's profits from fees charged to airlines, with a sliding scale depending on which airlines would prefer to call themselves '5 star', '4 star' etc.

It is a highly controvertial organisation: as witnessed by the 'vanishishing review' syndrome when it's time for each airline to pay their fees according to what stars they want.

Now, this doesn't take away the fact that the Qantas First Lounge is brilliant, Virgin Australia have really upped their game, and Cathay's seat is top notch.

But personally - I take these awards with a pinch of salt.


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