Health & Fitness

The Best (And Worst) Airlines For Your Trip

  • May 16, 2024
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The Best (And Worst) Airlines For Your Trip

Aussies love travelling to the US, but not all airlines are created equal, and nobody wants to get stuck in a dud seat on a dud airline on a 14-hour flight, even if you jagged a decent fare.

There’s no shortage of choice when flying between Australia and the US, and the good news is that travellers are starting to see decreases in ticket prices and slightly more award availability, even in business and first class.

Six airlines offer nonstop flights between Australia and the US — Qantas, Jetstar, Hawaiian Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. Some other carriers have viable one-stop options – think Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.

If you want to get creative, there are more options than you can count. But for brevity’s sake, we will focus on the nonstop options that link Australia and the US…

Qantas Performs Well On US Routes Against Competitors

Qantas has seven nonstop routes to the US, including Brisbane to Los Angeles; Sydney to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Honolulu; and Melbourne to Los Angeles and Dallas. The airline uses various aircraft, including an A330-200 on the Brisbane – Los Angeles route, the A380-800 on some Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles flights, and the B787-9 on the remainder.

Qantas wins points for a standardised and quite good business class seat across its long-haul fleet, superb first class lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, and LA, improved catering, and typically warm and friendly inflight service. It falls down owing to a lack of inflight WiFi (soon to be remedied), relatively shabby international business class lounges, and a subpar premium economy seat.

Lost Opportunity As American Downgrades Brisbane Flights

Oneworld partner American Airlines has one of the weakest full-service offerings on the Australia – US country pair, putting on daily B77-300ER services between Sydney and Los Angeles and seasonal Brisbane – LA flights using a B787-9 from late October.

American had the chance to smash it out of the park with its Brisbane flights. The airline was originally going to offer its new Flagship Business Suites on the route but recently downgraded it to the plain old Flagship business seats. 

There’s nothing wrong with American Airlines per se. It’s just very ho-hum across the board, with the airline on a downward slide towards mediocrity and getting thoroughly outgunned by its competitors. The inflight experience reflects this. Conversely, the fares are often less expensive than Qantas, and American can be a good vehicle for QFF award redemptions.

Alternatives To Qantas If Flying To Hawaii

Hawaiian Airlines operates a five-times-per-week A330-200 service between Sydney and Honolulu. In many regards, Hawaiian isn’t a bad airline, but the 2-2-2 configuration in its A330 business class cabin is abysmal. That will improve when the airline starts taking delivery of its B787-9s with their fancy Leihoku Suite business class seats. But that won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, if you’re Hawaii-bound, best head straight for the Qantas counter.

That’s unless the siren call of cheap fares on Jetstar lures you over to them. Jetstar has the only low-cost product on the Australia – US run, with B787-8 flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Honolulu. Jetstar business class punches above its weight as far as business class lite goes. It’s not the product itself that bothers us….

Rather, it’s Jetstar’s propensity to cancel flights and leave passengers posted, as well as the antics of some of the passengers themselves. You can hit badly behaved passengers on any airline, but they seem to have a predisposition towards Jetstar. Maybe there is a secret loyalty program we don’t know about.

Good Seats But Middling Service On United And Delta

United Airlines has the most extensive options of any airline flying between Australia and the US.  The airline is making a big play in the Southwest Pacific and currently flies between Melbourne and Los Angeles and San Francisco; Brisbane and Los Angeles and San Francisco; and Sydney and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston.

Like Qantas, United gets brownie points for a consistent and very good business class seat on all Australia – US routes, the well-regarded Polaris seat.

United’s Achilles heel is its inflight soft product, which can be hit and miss. When the crew and catering are on point, United can be world-class. When things go south, you could be on American. Luckily, United is reasonably consistent and consistently okay. 

Its transpacific flights are also interesting opportunities for Star Alliance award redemptions and, if using programs like Aeroplan, can be outstanding value.

Delta is similar to United, only with a smaller Southwest Pacific network. Its A350-900s (arguably the best commercial jet in the skies) swing between Sydney and will start seasonal Brisbane to LA flights in December. Delta One business class is really very good. The real bonus is the sliding privacy partition, a standout attribute you won’t find on Qantas or United.

The downside is you can hit those US airline service standards, even in Delta’s premium cabins, which if you regularly fly the Gulf or Asian airlines, or even Qantas, can be a real competitive disadvantage.

Stacking The Choices Up

Qantas performs well compared to its competitors on the Australia – US routes. Its business class seats aren’t as flashy as Polaris or the Delta One seat, but they are good, and you know what you are getting. As an added bonus, there are first class cabins on Qantas A380 flights to Los Angeles if you really want to live it up.

Unless you are a super picky flyer, flying in a premium cabin onboard Qantas, United, or Delta transpacific flights will be a good experience. DMARGE is less keen on American and Hawaiian Airlines. As for Jetstar, every Australian knows, or should know, what they are in for when stepping onboard….

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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