Travel Weekly Readers Choice 2016


Alaska Airlines


Seattle-based Alaska Airlines flies to more than 110 cities in the Americas with an average of 970 daily flights. In April Alaska announced an approximately $4 billion agreement to acquire Virgin America. The carrier beefed up service to Newark in the fall, adding flights from Portland, Ore., and San Diego. In July Alaska won an award from the DOT to fly from Los Angeles to Havana; service will begin in January. In November the carrier announced that its Premium Class seating, featuring extra legroom at the front of the economy cabin, would debut in January.

American Airlines

NOMINATED: Domestic, Global Network, International, Overall, Sales & Service

American flies to over 350 destinations in nearly five dozen countries. In June it launched service to Auckland, New Zealand. In November it became the first U.S. airline to fly commercially to Havana, and American is the most prolific U.S. airline in Cuba, receiving approvals this year to operate 13 daily flights to six Cuban destinations. November also marked American's first delivery of Boeing 797-900 Dreamliners and the introduction of international Premium Economy service, beginning with flights from Dallas to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Madrid.

British Airways

NOMINATED: Business/First Class, Global Network, International

British Airways flies to more than 170 destinations in 70 countries. This year it launched service between London Heathrow and San Jose, Calif., and announced 2017 service between London and Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans and Oakland. Also this year, the carrier updated the interiors of 18 Boeing 747s, adding business-class seats, called Club World, in the process. In November, British Airways announced that it will begin offering WiFi on short-haul fights next year.

Delta Air Lines

NOMINATED: Business/First Class, Domestic, Global Network, International, Overall, Sales & Service

Delta flies to 312 destinations in 54 countries. Among the routes it launched this year were Detroit-Munich, Minneapolis-Tokyo Haneda and Los Angeles-Shanghai. In addition, Delta began service this month to Havana from Atlanta, New York JFK and Miami. In May the carrier announced that it would unveil international premium-economy cabins next year when it takes delivery of its first Airbus A350 aircraft, and in August Delta announced that those same planes would have an all-suite business-class cabin called Delta One.


NOMINATED: Business/First Class, Global Network, International, Overall

Emirates, which serves 151 cities in 80 countries and territories, operates the world's largest fleets of the jumbo Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777. This month the carrier will commence daily service between Fort Lauderdale and its Dubai hub. In July Emirates doubled its Dubai service to Los Angeles to twice daily. And in February Emirates expanded its service to Washington Dulles by putting an A380 on the route. In October the carrier aired its second TV ad featuring actress Jennifer Aniston, building on a successful 2015 collaboration.

Singapore Airlines

NOMINATED: Business/First Class, Overall

Singapore Airlines, which serves 61 destinations in 31 countries, began direct service between San Francisco and Singapore in October, marking the carrier's resumption of nonstop U.S. service to its home base after a three-year pause. Singapore also moved the U.S. leg of its former San Francisco-Seoul-Singapore service to Los Angeles and launched a flight between Houston and Manchester, England. On the aircraft side, the carrier began flying the Airbus A350 in 2016. Its sixth A350, received in October, was the 10,000th aircraft produced by Airbus.

Southwest Airlines

NOMINATED: Domestic, Sales & Service

Southwest operates more than 3,900 daily departures during peak season and will service 101 destinations in the U.S. and seven foreign countries when it begins Havana service on Dec. 12. This year Southwest introduced 737-800 aircraft to its fleet with new interior designs, including seats with adjustable headrests. Over the summer Southwest began service in Long Beach, its fifth Los Angeles-area airport. Mexico service from Los Angeles Airport begins this month.

United Airlines

NOMINATED: Business/First Class, Domestic, Global Network, International, Overall, Sales & Service

United Airlines offers more than 4,500 daily flights to 339 destinations around the world. This year United added several routes from its West Coast hub in San Francisco to the Asia-Pacific region. Those destinations include Xian and Hangzhou in China as well as Auckland and Singapore. In June United unveiled its newly designed international business class, called Polaris, with plans to launch the service this month. The carrier also made substantial strides in a key operational indicator in 2016, recording its best-ever on-time performance during the summer at 76%.

Virgin Atlantic

NOMINATED: Business/First Class, International, Overall, Sales & Service

Virgin Atlantic announced several new transatlantic routes in 2016, including Seattle-Heathrow and San Francisco-Manchester, both of which will commence next spring. The carrier also continued a fleet modernization that will see half of its aircraft replaced over six years by taking delivery of five Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and announcing an order of 12 Airbus A350s. In addition, Virgin Atlantic, which serves 33 worldwide destinations, continued WiFi installation on its 39 aircraft this year with the expectation of completing the project in early 2017.

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