Virgin Atlantic, with its in-flight bar, designer-clad flight attendants and leather seats, has emerged as the favorite long-haul airline among readers of a luxury travel magazine published by The Daily Telegraph.
Announced this week out of London, the carrier helmed by splashy billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson snagged the lofty title from runners-up British Airways, Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines at the Ultratravel 100 awards 2013.
Among the plethora of international airlines on the market, Virgin Atlantic has tried to set itself apart with an emphasis on style.
Innovations out of the British airline, for example, include the installment of a separate in-flight bar for Upper Class passengers where flyers can sip on cocktails and get to know their seatmates.
The Upper Class Suite is decked out in Swarovski crystals while passengers lounge in plush leather chairs that fold out into flat beds that are among the longest in the industry, the airline says.
The airline is also a favorite among economy passengers for providing extras normally reserved for premium passengers on other carriers, such as amenity kits that include toothbrushes, eye masks, ear plugs and tissues, extra legroom, and a welcome cocktail.
Likewise, gone are three-course meals set on single trays. Instead, economy class passengers are presented with menus and served a three-course meal in separate services by flight attendants who, this summer, will be decked out in uniforms created by punk icon fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
Virgin Atlantic also scored the award for best airline lounge for its Clubhouse at London’s Heathrow airport in Terminal 3, where premium passengers have access to spa and shower services.
Meanwhile, in the category of best short-haul airline, British Airways took top nods and Singapore Airlines won in the category of best cabin crew.
Here are the airline winners of the Ultratravel 100 awards:
Best long-haul airline: Virgin AtlanticRunners-up: British AirwaysEmiratesQantasSingapore Airlines
Best short-haul airline: British AirwaysRunners-up: easyJetLufthansaMonarchSwiss
Best airline lounge: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow Terminal 3Runners-up: British Airways, Heathrow Terminal 5Emirates, DubaiQatar Airways, DohaSingapore Airlines, Changi
Best cabin crew: Singapore AirlinesRunners-up: British AirwaysEmiratesEtihad Airways