When you're jetting off to an international destination, the airline you choose to get there with is often low on the list of priorities. But choosing the best airline should be just as important as finding the perfect Airbnb or putting together in an Instagrammable outfit. After all, these flights can be long, and you can only grin and bear so much.
Set a comfortable tone for your trip by booking with international airlines that prioritize mid-air amenities. We've categorized our favorite carriers according to what we feel they're best at—from leg room and layover options to first-class service and carefree style. Once you learn what's available, you may start to embrace the travel philosophy that a vacation starts as soon as you hit cruising altitude.
Best Leg Room: Air New Zealand
Leave it to long flights to make for an obvious need. When flyers board Air New Zealand, which covers some of the longest stretches of airspace in the world, they hope that their seats are at least comfortable. And thankfully, Air New Zealand has made that a priority in every seat. Spacious leg room is available to all passengers, and those in economy class can even lie flat on a "skycouch" that resembles a double bed.
Best Style: Eva Air
Eva Air has been making headlines for its Hello Kitty–themed airlines since 2005, but that doesn't mean it's gotten any less popular. In fact, the different cartoon exteriors have only garnered more of a following as their fleet expands (it now touches down in 50 cities across North America, Asia, Europe and Australia), and passengers can also enjoy the on-brand interiors. The airline's service is also renowned, so you'll really be flying in style.
Best First Class: Etihad Airways
Flying to Abu Dhabi anytime soon? If you want to get there feeling your best, splurging on a first-class ticket might be worth it. Etihad Airlines offers first-class passengers their own "apartments," which feature private lounges, bedrooms, and bathrooms. And if you thought a seat designed by an Italian furniture maker was luxurious, it's also possible to take a mid-flight shower, too.
Best Hop Across the Pond: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic has long been the effortlessly cool carrier in the skies—whether passengers are praising its in-flight bar, flatbeds, or wide range of entertainment. And while we're fans of all these amenities, we also like that its expanded Delta partnership makes its flights available to even more cities across the U.S. That makes a hop across the pond even easier to do.
Best Layover: Finnair
Finnair may make direct flights easy since it flies to more than 90 international cities, but you may be tempted to stick close to its base in Helsinki during your trip. Its popular stopover deal allows passengers to explore this capital city anywhere from five hours to five days—making it possible for you to see the Northern Lights before jetting off to your final destination.
Best Dining: Korean Air
Here's a fun fact about the dining carts of Korean Air: They're stocked with organic, humanely raised ingredients from the airline's farm on Jeju Island. Everything from cherry tomatoes to chicken is chosen at its highest quality before being served in traditional Korean dishes like ginseng chicken soup and bibimbap. Passengers can also pair their meals with freshly brewed green tea or French wines (which probably sets a hard-to-beat standard for the rest of their trip).
Best Entertainment: Emirates
It's true that you have to be a premium flyer to really experience the best that Emirates has to offer. Passengers in this category are treated to top service (including some seriously comfortable pre-takeoff lounges) and have access to numerous entertainment options. Its fleet of Airbus A380s have seat-back entertainment systems that include WiFi and more than 1800 channels. Passengers can binge shows, watch movies, and create Instagram stories all about it for hours on end.
Best Jet-Lag Fighter: Qatar Airlines
When Qatar Airlines launched the Airbus A350, it basically had your tired skin and puffy eyes in mind. The cabins are filled with higher humidity levels, fresher air, and intelligent lighting to better mimic the atmosphere on land, which diminishes the effects of jet lag. And if that wasn't enough, Qatar Airlines also has a hydrating water bottle holder inside the armrest — a nice detail considering it has a champagne station, too.
Best Coach: Swiss
We all know that long-haul flights in coach can be dreadful—unless you're on a Swiss flight. Styled in that beloved Nordic warmth, those in coach are treated to adjustable headrests, pampering kits, and meals served throughout the flight. Close quarters aren't so bad if you can be treated to Swiss cheeses and wines along the way.
Best Reliable Flight: Singapore Airlines
Most travelers look for comfortable seats and good service when they book an international flight, and Singapore Airlines meets those expectations. But here's a small detail that makes a big difference when you're on the go: reliability. Singapore Airlines is consistently given high marks in this category, making it the type of carrier that's especially alluring to a weary traveler. It'll get you where you want to go when you want to get there.
We're always on the lookout for the best international airlines, so when you discover a perk while flying one next time, be sure to tag us on social with #MyDomaineTravels.