With more and more airlines competing for your custom, all offering different fares, routes and benefits, it can be hard to choose who to fly with. Not all airlines are created equal, so we’ve checked in with some frequent flyers to see who they fly and why.
André Russ, vice-president sales, EarthCheck
We operate in over 70 countries around the world so I travel internationally at least once a quarter. This past 12 months I have been to China, Mexico, Colombia, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the US.
Preferred airline: I made the switch to Qantas from Singapore Airlines two years ago.
Best: Qantas has my preferred routes and its codeshare partners are a good mix. I like how Uber is linked through the Qantas app; the frequent flyer program is very helpful and the lounges are exceptional.
Worst: If your colleagues are travelling a different airline that’s not a Qantas affiliate, you can’t bring them into the lounge as your guest. I also have a massive issue with the amenities bag. It should be more sustainable.
Tip: Be sure to follow the advice on deep vein thrombosis; I picked up a blood clot late last year.
Iain Fogerty, Asia-Pacific director, Rabmed
I cover all of Asia and make regular trips to Britain and the US. I fly internationally at least twice a month and domestically three to four times a month.
Preferred airline: Virgin Australia for both domestic and international.
Best: Virgin Australia’s The Business seats are easily the best to fly to the US or Hong Kong. It also has some great benefits when you are a Velocity Frequent Flyer, including a Hilton Diamond membership when you become Platinum – a great benefit for regular travellers.
Worst: There’s no further recognition as a frequent flyer beyond platinum. Qantas has a further level – Platinum One – and I’d love to see Virgin do something similar. It would also be great if it offered a chauffeur service for business class travellers.
Tip: Use ExpertFlyer to choose flights and seats. It is a paid service but well worth it, particularly if you are looking for award seats.
Sinmei Cheung, owner, Sinmei Tea
I used to run tea houses in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Brisbane. I was based in Hong Kong and travelled between all three but have recently settled in Brisbane.
I travel domestically and internationally for business, and my fiance is still in Shanghai, so once or twice a month on average we’ll meet in different part of the world when he is traveling for work. He’s Spanish, so we’ll usually visit his family in Madrid a couple of times a year too.
Preferred airline: Qantas for domestic and British Airways for international.
Best: BA has a competitively priced premium economy class. The meal is much better than many other airlines and it has new aircraft. I’ve found it the best at dealing with delayed or cancelled flights too.
Worst: I’ve noticed the dropping of ticket prices has corresponded to a drop in BA service in the past two-three years.
Tip: If you fly to Europe frequently, it’s worth booking from Europe return instead. For example: We pay $3000 economy for Shanghai to London return, instead of $1000 London to Shanghai return.
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Ben May, managing director, The Code Company
I live in a remote area (Hervey Bay) but most of our work is in Sydney and Melbourne so I fly domestically at least once a month and internationally three-six times a year, including the US, New Zealand and Europe.
I spend many hours when booking travel researching everything from the plane type to the way it’s configured (often the same plane can be configured two or three ways, making big differences), and keep up to date with sites like Australian Business Traveller or Australian Frequent Flyer.
Preferred airline: Qantas (and oneworld network)
Best: I travel Qantas because there’s a comprehensive network and flight frequency in Australia, and because I do a lot of US travel, I get benefits from American Airlines, which are also good in the US.
Worst: Qantas flight experiences can be inconsistent – cabin crew are either unremarkable or exceptional. When you get a good crew, it’s very noticeable.
Tip: If you are keen to fly business class long haul, [consider] China Airlines. It might be missing a few of the smaller touches that Qantas offers, but nevertheless has newer aircraft and a good business class product, and is often half the price of Qantas.