I get anxious over the thought of a long flight with a bad airline. I’m talking 10+ hours in a middle seat with the chair in front of you reclined onto your legs as you try to avoid touching that unidentifiable thing on the back of your tray table. Meanwhile the flight attendants are all ignoring your repeated requests for a blanket to counter the icy cold air blowing down through the vents that won’t close.
So…I’ve begun taking better notice of my airlines and how awesome they may or may not be. Here’s what I know so far:

EVA Air (Taiwan)– I’ve used EVA a few times now, going between the Bay Area and Bangkok and I absolutely love it. The staff is super friendly and always tries to get me a veg meal when I inevitably fail to request it online beforehand. The planes are clean and comfortable, and bonus: hand lotion and grapefruit scented face mist in the bathrooms. Hooray for EVA!

Korean Air– Yes. From the classical music streaming through the speakers during boarding to the actual silverware distributed at mealtime, yes. This is a wonderful airline. My lovely steward all but suggested that I have wine with my dinner, nullifying my usual self-consciousness regarding liquor consumption on airplanes. No judgement on Korean Air! Plus there’s facial spray in the bathrooms, and to really make you feel at home, how about a toothbrush and some slippers??

Delta Airlines– This is a fine airline. Honestly, I flew Delta right after my Korean Air flight and had some astronomical expectations, and so was a little disappointed. But, again, a totally fine airline. The plane was clean, the staff was cool and they handed out eye masks…but is it too much to ask to get some facial mist in the bathrooms?

AirAsia– This is a decent budget airline that I’ve used quite a bit on short-ish flights through Asia. The planes are always clean and the staff is pretty cool, but I’m always a little sad when I remember that they don’t feed you unless you pay.

Air India– I loved this airline, mostly because I got really lucky with my seat (and a super discount on the ticket). I sat right behind the first-class barrier and had an empty seat between mine and the guy’s next to me. All the extra room, the luxurious red carpets and my businessman of a neighbor lending me his newspaper combined to make me feel pretty fancy on this flight. More generally, the plane was so fresh, so clean and we got some delicious airplane food on a flight that was just over three hours.

Biman Airlines (Bangladesh)– I had two very different experiences with this airline. The first flight I had with them was pretty sweet. The plane was new and spotless with comfy leather chairs and friendly stewards. The next flight was essentially the opposite. The plane was old and dirty, with smelly bathrooms and stewards who had me walk from one end of the plane to the other and back for a visa application form. Also, the scariest landing ever (I don’t know how much the airline has to do with that, but, just saying). All in all, if you’re not into in-flight exercise and potentially exciting landings, you’re taking a risk with the mixed bag that is Bangladesh Biman.

Spirit Airlines- For a $90 round-trip from OAK to LAX, how can I complain, right? Spirit is what you might expect from a budget airline–they make up the low cost of the flights where they can. You won’t be getting any free peanuts, and if you’re feeling dehydrated, water will cost you $3. You’re allowed to take on free a personal item (18 x 14 x 8 in.). A larger carry-on starts at $50 at check-in, but the price doubles when boarding begins. Beware of baggage fees, and Spirit is a fine, cheap option.

Norwegian Air– This is somewhat of a budget airline that prides itself on it’s technology. The newer planes claim to have better air circulation and some high-tech lighting that helps reduce jet lag. I don’t know if it matters what kind of lighting your plane has when you fly across four time zones and don’t sleep for two days, but I also don’t know science. They won’t feed you, even on the longest flight. You can, however, get free water, and they make it super convenient for those who do want to buy food or drinks–just tap on the screen in front of your face and swipe your card and voila. Magical, but not free.


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