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The Business Traveler North America Award Winners 2023: Airlines and Cabins

December 1, 2023

North America’s Best Airline

Delta Air Lines

A350 Delta One Suite / Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has once again claimed the title of North America’s Best Airline, and it’s no surprise. For the second consecutive year, Delta has been honored with Cirium’s Platinum Award for Operational Excellence, speaking volumes about the airline’s commitment to its passengers and their travel experience.

Delta’s dedication to timeliness is clear in that nearly 84 percent of its flights arrived on time in 2022. With 965 planes and operations spanning seven hubs, Delta has earned its reputation as the most reliable carrier in the country.

Delta’s commitment to connectivity is evident in its provision of fast, free Wi-Fi to its SkyMiles members. With the introduction of Delta Sync, passengers can enjoy a more personalized and seamless travel experience.

North America’s Best Business Class

Delta Air Lines

Delta One takes care of every aspect of your journey from the moment you step into the airport, granting access to Delta’s Sky Club and Sky Priority accelerated check-in, security and baggage-handling services.

Onboard, Delta has made significant strides in renewing its fleet with state-of-the-art business class cabins. This effort began in 2017 with the introduction of Delta One suites on the airline’s Airbus A350 aircraft. These suites, featuring a 1-2-1 configuration and a sliding door for added privacy, have set the standard for long-haul flying.

North America’s Premium Economy

Delta Air Lines

Delta’s Premium Select takes your travel experience to new heights. Available on the latest wide-body aircraft, these seats are designed for comfort and entertainment. With features like a footrest, power port, adjustable headrest and generous 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen, you’ll be treated to a journey that’s both relaxing and engaging. Whether it’s a 2-4-2 or 2-3-2 seating configuration, you’ll find your own space to unwind on planes such as the Airbus A350, A330-900neo and Boeing 767-400ER.

North America’s Best Airline Lounge

Delta Air Lines

Sky Club at Los Angeles International Airport / Photo: Courtesy of Jason Dewey

Delta has set the standard for airport lounges with its magnificent Sky Club at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This 30,000-square- foot lounge can accommodate more than 500 guests. One of its standout features is the Sky Deck, an outdoor space with a bar and breathtaking views of both the airport runway and the Hollywood Hills. The design of the lounge mirrors the natural beauty of Southern California, with waves on the sand-inspired ceiling and mountain outlines in the wood paneling. A unique feature is the Coffee Grotto, designed to evoke the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, complete with imported Italian tiles.

The lounge has two buffets and two bars, offering diverse food and drink options, including regional cuisine by local chefs. Delta has created a lounge experience that reflects the vibrant culture and beauty of Los Angeles.

World’s Best Airline

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Suite / Photo: Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines, named World’s Best Airline for two consecutive years by Business Traveler, continues to set the benchmark for exceptional service, catering and onboard comfort. The airline operates a vast network, connecting travelers to more than 75 destinations across five continents and 32 countries. In the U.S., the airline serves five major gateways: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston, with the world’s longest 19-hour nonstop flight from Singapore to New York.

Traveling with Singapore Airlines ensures a premium in-flight experience. With a long-haul, wide-body fleet consisting of Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s and A380s, the airline offers personalized service, ergonomically designed seats, a wide range of entertainment options, and exquisite culinary dishes in Business and First Class.

Passengers enjoy private lie-flat seats (some with doors) and the Book the Cook feature for preordering gourmet meals by renowned chefs from the airline’s all-star culinary panel. The A380 offers opulent First Class suites—exclusively available on New York to Frankfurt flights—providing more than 50 square feet of space, a reclining armchair, a separate bed convertible into a double bed, and sliding doors, reminiscent of hotel rooms in the sky.

North America’s Best In-Flight Food and Beverage

JetBlue

JetBlue’s in-flight dining / Photo: Courtesy of JetBlue

JetBlue’s upscale culinary journey began in 2020 when it joined forces with Delicious Hospitality Group (DHG), a New York City restaurant group. The plan involved bringing the flavors of DHG’s best restaurants to the skies, marking a new era in in-flight dining.

The initial chapter of the book showcased the trendy restaurant Charlie Bird, followed by Pasquale Jones. The customers were thrilled with the taste of New York’s culinary expertise. The menu is continually updated, with seasonal ingredients taking center stage and varying as per the destination. An assortment of international wines is carefully selected to ensure a memorable dining experience, even at 35,000 feet.

Best Private Jet Company

NetJets

NetJets Global 7500 / Photo: Courtesy of NetJets

In the world of private jet travel, NetJets reigns supreme. With nearly six decades of experience, it continues to set the gold standard.

What sets it apart? A diverse fleet, unparalleled aircraft availability, top-notch customer service, flexible peak-day policies, exceptional value and steady overall satisfaction.

NetJets boasts a fleet of more than 900 aircraft, ranging from the nimble Phenom 300 to
the far-reaching Global 7500. In 2022, more than 70 new jets joined the fleet, with 100-plus coming this year.

NetJets offers various pricing options catering to a wide range of travelers, from occasional users to frequent flyers. However, what truly distinguishes NetJets is its commitment to delivering a personalized experience for each passenger.

Best First Class

Air France

First-class, Air France / Photo: Courtesy of Air France

Gaining access to the world’s finest first class experience isn’t for the faint of heart. The high-price-tag experience unfolds on the ground, where passengers enjoy complimentary airport transfers, a private check-in lounge and a car transfer to the gate. Air France’s La Première lounge exudes sophistication and exclusivity. Alongside refined service and delectable cuisine, a Sisley-branded spa provides a complimentary facial.

Onboard, a single row of four seats stands out for its 30-inch-wide flatbeds, a floor-to- ceiling curtain and a bed that features a one-inch-thick memory foam mattress pad, a fluffy duvet and a plush pillow. Passengers also enjoy various amenities, including a dimmable side lamp, LED seat lights and world-class Parisian dining curated by Michelin-starred chefs.

World’s Best Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy / Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has set a high bar in Premium Economy, and it’s no surprise they’ve been recognized as the world’s best for the second consecutive year. Passengers enjoy two checked bags, with SkyPriority service for faster check-in and boarding. Onboard, Virgin offers extra-large leather seats with up to 38 inches of pitch. Night flights come with a special premium amenity kit, while the dining experience is always exceptional.

Every flight starts with a chilled glass of sparkling wine, followed by various delectable hot dishes served on refined plates. And for in-flight snacks, the onboard Wander Wall provides sweet and savory treats.

And boredom is never an issue with Virgin Atlantic’s 300-plus hours of entertainment, in-seat power and affordable Wi-Fi to keep passengers connected throughout their journey.

World’s Best Business Class

Qatar Airways Qsuite

Qatar Airways Qsuite / Photo: Courtesy of Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways, often ranked among the world’s top airlines, is globally recognized for having the finest Business Class cabin. A commitment to comfort, seat design, service and amenities has forged a near-perfect Business Class experience.

The Qsuite is capable of impressing both first-timers and seasoned travelers. Adaptable panels create social spaces for work or dining, even midflight. Privacy, too, is paramount, with each seat featuring a sliding door, granting complete seclusion. Every passenger enjoys a 22-inch touch-screen TV and a do-not-disturb button for added privacy. Each seat is upholstered in the latest and finest fabrics, carefully selected to enhance your experience. The media panel is equipped with an all-access power port featuring USB, HDMI and NFC capabilities, allowing you to stay connected and entertained throughout your journey.

The Qsuite’s most groundbreaking feature is that it offers four different products: the Single Suite for solo travelers; the Twin Suite for business travelers flying together; the Double Suite, perfect for couples; and The Quad, ideal for families of four. The unmatched versatility of this product sets it apart from others in the industry.

The airline also offers a “dine anytime” concept, as well as a personalized turndown service that includes comfortable pillows, a quilted mattress and a soft, luxurious duvet. These are now accompanied by The White Company sleepwear and cozy slippers, as well as amenity kits from Diptyque, ensuring a luxurious journey.

Qatar Airways has set a new standard for Business Class luxury: The Qsuite is a pinnacle of comfort, resourcefulness and innovation.

Best Frequent Flyer Program

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines AAdvantage / Photo: Courtesy of American Airlines

AAdvantage offers a strong network of partner airlines and competitive award redemption rates worldwide. Members can earn and redeem miles for experiences such as air travel, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages through more than 1,000 partner companies.

The program distinguishes itself by not tying status to flight segment requirements, offering members the freedom to focus on earning elite status benefits without unnecessary constraints. Loyalty Point Rewards enhance program value and incentivize loyalty by offering benefits as members progress.

Despite shifting to dynamic pricing in 2023, AAdvantage offers low redemption rates for partner carriers, starting at just 7,500 miles for one-way domestic flights—the lowest in the industry.

Best Airline Alliance

Star Alliance

Star Alliance, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport / Photo: Courtesy of Star Alliance

As the skies become increasingly crowded, more travelers have the privilege of experiencing what Star Alliance and its 26 member airlines have to offer.

What sets it apart? Its steady commitment to enhancing the passenger experience. The group’s latest strategy digitizes the traveler’s journey, offering loyalty benefits and pioneering innovations, such as the Intermodal Partnership with Deutsche Bahn, which streamlines air-rail journeys.

The LAX Star Alliance Lounge—one of six alliance-branded lounges in the world—is another testament to the brand’s excellence.

This award-winning lounge offers exceptional amenities and services, including an outdoor terrace with breathtaking views—a stunning space by day and a vibrant one as the sun sets.

World’s Best In-Flight Food and Beverage

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines in-flight dining experience / Photo: Courtesy of Turkish Airlines

Known for delivering culinary masterpieces, Turkish Airlines and Austrian catering firm DO&CO provide an exceptional dining experience. In the airport and the air, the airline’s dedication to exquisite cuisine is evident and has consistently impressed passengers and critics alike.

From delectable meze appetizers to gourmet meals prepared by the skilled Flying Chef for Business Class travelers on long-haul flights to the passenger-favorite baklava desserts, Turkish Airlines has mastered the art of in-flight dining.

The airline has updated its menu this year, including more local flavors and ingredients in all cabin classes.

As pandemic restrictions ease and the Flying Chefs again take to the skies, it’s no surprise that Turkish Airlines has been recognized as the world’s best.

Best Airline App

United Airlines

United Airlines App / Photo: Courtesy of United Airlines

United has emerged as a trailblazer in airline apps. Its commitment to enhancing the passenger experience is evident through a series of groundbreaking upgrades in its iPhone app.

The app features Live Activities, which allows access to boarding passes, gate assignments and seat numbers. This real-time capability has transformed how passengers engage with their travel itinerary, making it more convenient and efficient.

A Lock Screen countdown clock is another standout addition, offering an interactive way to access flight details even when the iPhone is locked or used for other purposes. Travelers can easily find information such as flight numbers, status, gates, baggage updates and more. More features provide real-time flight information, helping travelers prepare and navigate disruptions. Passengers affected by flight delays and cancellations can now receive vouchers for meals, hotels and rideshare services directly through the app, eliminating the need for paperwork and customer service lines.

The app is designed for maximum accessibility, assisting visually impaired travelers and offering a personalized experience.

United’s app, with up to three million daily users, is not just a travel companion but also a comprehensive solution, featuring tools such as Agent on Demand, Map Search, Terminal Guide and Travel-Ready Center.