- While some people insist on avoiding certain airlines, or feel nervous about flying on unfamiliar foreign carriers, that could be a big mistake.
- Despite reputations for stinginess with things like bags or seat size, plenty of low-cost carriers offer phenomenal service considering their incredibly low prices, as long as you pay attention when booking and know exactly what you’re getting.
- Similarly, lesser-known foreign airlines often offer great ways to see the world comfortably, in a safe and cost-effective way.
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Here are 14 airlines that I think are consistently underrated based on my own travels, conversations with other travellers, and a ton of discussions online.
Southwest has a reputation for being a more basic airline, but features like no change fees, two free checked bags, and reasonably comfortable seats and amenities are a big plus.
Norwegian Air Shuttle offers unbundled fares between the US and Europe. With round trip tickets sometimes available in the roughly $US200 range, it’s a perfectly comfortable, incredibly cost-effective way to get to London, Paris, or other cities. Just make sure to read the terms carefully to know what is and isn’t included.
Ryanair gets a bad rap, but the ultra-low-cost-carrier is perfectly serviceable for the incredibly cheap flights it offers throughout Europe.
Similarly, EasyJet may have a reputation for being utilitarian, but its low prices make it an attractive way to gallivant around Europe.
Wizz Air is similar to Ryanair and EasyJet but often has less name recognition. This Hungarian-based ultra-low-cost-carrier is perfectly serviceable, and just announced that it’s expanding its network to Edinburgh, from which it will operate flights to Poland, Hungary, and Romania.
Nok Air is a low-cost carrier based in Thailand. The airline’s flights are mostly domestic and regional, but make a great, quick, cheap way to get around the region if you’re stopping in multiple cities during a trip.
Alaska Airlines – which is based in Seattle – is smaller than its mainline US competitors, but gets consistently high ratings from passengers. It also partners with American Airlines and has a strong frequent-flyer program that is also underrated.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand offers a fairly unique feature on its long-haul flights. Dubbed “Economy Skycouch,” it lets you book an entire economy row to yourself. It includes a mattress pad and pillows, and costs significantly less than a lie-flat business-class seat.
AirAsia and its long-haul arm AirAsia X offer an inexpensive way to get around Asia and Oceania for cheap during a big vacation.
Ethiopian Airlines is often overlooked, but has a history of excellent safety, reliability, and service. The airline flies modern Boeing and Airbus jets, and has direct flights to the US with connecting service available to much of Africa and beyond.
Spirit Airlines is another one like Ryanair that often gets a bad rap. Yes, the airline is no-frills. Yes, it’s stingy when it comes to carry-on bag size. But it’s up-front about all of this when you book, and its prices are rock-bottom. Plus, an upgrade to the Big Front Seat can be a fantastic deal.
AeroMexico operates a joint partnership with Delta Air Lines for flights between Mexico and the US, and the airline’s service is fantastic. Whether you score a great business-class deal, or you sit in coach, it’s a comfortable and convenient way to get to Mexico and Central or South America.
Royal Air Maroc
With top-of-the-line Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Royal Air Maroc is a great way to fly. The airline serves New York with service to Casablanca, where you can connect elsewhere in Africa or the Middle East.
The airline is set to join the Oneworld alliance in 2020, and American Airlines is launching flights from Philadelphia to Casablanca in the spring. When that happens, it will be possible to fly from virtually anywhere in the US to Casablanca (with a stop in Philly) and on to any of Royal Air Maroc’s destinations on a single ticket.
Australian airline Jetstar is often forgotten next to better-known Qantas and Virgin Australia, but its low fares make it a fantastic way to fly across Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. There’s even a flight between Sydney and Honolulu, Hawaii.
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