The Best Airline Boarding Music?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for good advertising in the travel industry. Any time I can associate a brand with an experience or emotion, it somehow strengthens the bond I have to it.

Along those lines, I’m a real sucker for good airline boarding music. Boarding music helps shape my overall first impression of an airline. At least for me, when I step foot on a plane, the first 10 minutes really shape my feelings towards the airline — how am I greeted at the door, how chaotic is the ground experience, how am I served my pre-departure beverage, what music is playing in the background, etc. 😉

The boarding music on Qantas the other day really surprised me, in both a positive and negative way (as I’ll share below). And it made me think of some of my other favorite airline boarding music.

The “big three” Gulf carriers do a hell of a job with boarding music.

Here’s Emirates’ track:

Here’s Etihad’s track:

And here’s Qatar’s track:

Emirates’ track is so upbeat, Etihad’s is soothing and great to work to (I listen to it just about every day), and Qatar’s is somehow mystically awesome… or something.

Then I also love ANA’s boarding music:

It’s probably the second classiest thing in the world (after Iggy Azalea).

And that brings us to Qantas.

I was initially really puzzled by the boarding music on my Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles last week. It was mostly country music, which just seemed a bit off to me. After a few glasses of champagne, though, the music selection changed drastically. They played “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap:

That seemed like an odd choice for boarding music, but it’s also a song I love. I liked the song before, though hadn’t downloaded it. Now I’ve downloaded it through iTunes, and every time I listen to it I smile and think back to the amazing trip I took with my dad.

What’s your favorite airline boarding music, and do you ever associate certain memories with it?

Filed Under: Videos
  1. Definitely Rhapsody in Blue on United. It’s been a mainstay on international flights for ages, and when I hear it all I want to do is travel.

  2. I know it doesn’t really count per se since it’s mostly for announcements, but does it get any better, and does any other song give you the chills associated with the excitement of airline flying, than “Rhapsody in Blue”? United may be the WORST, but at least the new Continental team posing as UA recognized the inherent goodwill value in that one song people will forever associate with the friendly skies.

  3. JAL has a great march kind of song they played during boarding when I flew them a couple of years ago — it made it feel like you were embarking on a grand adventure.

  4. For domestic flights, I enjoy listening to Delta’s boarding music. I think it’s from a flight attendant’s ipod since it’s always some pop/jazz music. I at first thought the radio was on but nope, it was just the boarding music.

    I flew EK so many times the past 5-6 years that the boarding music is ingrained in my head. Good times.

  5. I’m a sucker for the CX and BA tunes, but I think it’s more that I associate it with good flying experiences.

  6. The old LAN boarding music was really good (and my second-favorite behind Etihad):

    Of course I associate it with the phenomenal trip I took to Easter Island via the old Executive Club redemption rules, but I also really like the photos of obscure Andean cities that I’ve never head of but would love to visit.

  7. i love AA’s boarding music — it makes me think of bearded session musicians playing faux world music meets enya shit in some early 90s recording studio

  8. TAM has no music theme, instead, they always put some random bossa nova song, different from LAN ( Now with the brands merging to a single one until the end of 2014, I am curious to listen a possible new one, with the challenge to comtemple several South American rythms.

  9. I’m typically used to the whir of the airplane during boarding; because I usually fly United. #FWP I do find sentimental value in the Rhapsody in Blue that they play. I hear it and I instantaneously think of the tulip.

    But, if I had to say, I was on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland in August, and they played “Royals” for boarding music. And now I associate it with the great trip I had to New Zealand.

  10. Best: United Airlines — they play classical music during boarding which is classy. Not just Rhapsody in Blue: on long international flights, they have a tracklist including Ponce’s Estrellita, and other cheesy, sweet classical pieces.
    Worst boarding music? Delta, KLM, Lufthansa…

  11. I love this post! Emirate’s boarding song sounds so upbeat and uplifting, gets you in a “I can fly AND conquer the world!” kind of feel.
    Etihad’s- the beginning of it is like a spa background music but I like it more and more as it progressed (gets into a more uplifting beat but at the same time still mellow).
    Qantas always had songs from artists as boarding music BUT it’s their On-Hold music that’s really really good! I’ve been searching for that one for the longest time but couldn’t find it. It’s like a cross between the Emirates and Etihad one. I guess they put such an inspirational song as hold music so people don’t realise how long they’ve been on hold! haha 🙂

  12. “It’s probably the second classiest thing in the world (after Iggy Azalea).”

    Oh Ben. You give away so much of yourself.

  13. No airline tops the boarding music AND videos played by Hawaiian Air! One is immediately ‘transported’ to the islands as soon as one steps aboard their aircraft. And as I am presently enjoying as I sit here in my ‘Suite’ at NRT awaiting our take-off enroute to LAX, the mellow jazz played by SQ is very pleasant indeed.

  14. Emirates wins hands down for me. I fly mostly with Lufthansa, Thai and Emirates and the Emirates music is the one that gives me those excited travel feelings. Even when I played it right now from the blog I got all the “feelings”!! I love it. Great topic!

  15. On the evening Norwegian air flight from Oslo to Amsterdam they played “I’m like a bird” by Nelly Furtado

  16. On the other end of the spectrum:

    Stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours with AirAsia, with Taylor Swift turned up to full-volume on repeat – let’s just say it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

  17. My #1 go-to is EVA Air’s. It’s very calming enough that I actually used it in creating a pre-luncheon event at work and a few people complimented the selection ( The link is from 2007 and I have never flown BR, so I can’t vouch for if they are still using the song.

    Second in place is ANA (same to the one listed above). They also use the tune (I’m told the author is Hanase Taro) in their telephone hold music and I always charmed in listening to it even when I was on hold for long periods.

    Singapore Airlines is another. Emirates, Etihad, and BA I also like. As much contempt I have for United (bags lost and dirt-poor service), Rhapsody in Blue was one of my favorite tunes even before UA used it for their advertising (I thank the Fantasia 2000 IMAX presentation starring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine).

  18. The Emirates boarding music sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it! I love it,Mir reminds me of some of the happiest times of my life, travelling away… Such a nice tune.

    At the end of November also, I travelled AirAsia and they played Carly Rae Jepsen and Ellie Goulding! Was a fun atmosphere to get on board to!

  19. The Emirates airways boarding music will always stay with me, reminding me of some of my greatest experiences in Dubai. The first time I flew business class, the first time I went to Africa, going up the Burj Khalifa…

  20. I am looking for the ‘boarding music’ to Alitalia’…..Rome to Miami. Just absolutely beautiful. Can anyone help please?

  21. @Tiffany
    Dominico Modugno’s song? and a great new version. That Alitalia campaign is great, BTW.

  22. Have you listened to the latest Ethiopian Airlines boarding music lately? I was on a Dreamliner flight MNL-BK-AA route.
    If you know about Ethiopia and their amazing history and heritage, the music will give you shivers.
    I’ve been googling the music in spotify and itunes but to no avail 🙁
    Anybody knows the title and the artist?

  23. I just finished two flight segments with china eastern airlines (love them) and I cnt get the boarding instrumental out of my head, absolutely beautiful and i want it!!!!! None of the attendants knew it and i cant find anything on utube or internet searches….anyone? I will try china eastern email but doubt any response!! Lol

  24. Can anyone help me find/ identify the boarding music china eastern plays…flight attendants were clueless and none of my reachouts thru social media or emails to the airline has been successful….one song is stuck in my head ive GOT to find it or i will go crazy!?

  25. I do not understand why some airlines change the boarding music every month or so. To hear the well known music for years and years is like coming home. okay, lets be a little less pathetic, but it is a warm feeling if you come inside the cabin and hear the well known notes. And even if i did not use ANA often, this music is by far the most wonderful i heard – and i checked them all out in here if i do not know them 🙂

  26. I want to know what music plays Tam airline on the flight from Sao Pablo to Madrid. Its a brasilean song but how can i find it?

  27. R Y, I was legit about to comment both of those XDDDDDD (although the Qing Hua Ci (Blue & White Porcelain) by Jay Chou isn’t really the exact one that China Eastern uses, but its the closest we have so far!)

  28. also with the first one (named “Moonglow” by Bandari) is also used by China Eastern along side China Southern

  29. Looking for a friend. What was the boarding music on Delta “SONG” flights. She loved the tune said it was jazz. I told her I could find out anything. Somebody make me look good. I love making people’s days.

  30. I agree with Pete. For me, there are two favorites. Many years ago, I traveled to Asia quarterly for QBRs and customer/partner visits. My company strongly preferred United, so I came to associate Rhapsody in Blue with travel, and therefore with fun. NOTE: Back then, we flew business or first. As United’s product has gotten worse (in my opinion) Rhapsody in Blue has lost some of it’s charm fo rme.

    Now that I travel mostly for pleasure, and go to Japan twice a year, I have started using ANA almost exclusively. And that means listening to Another Sky by Taro Hakase. Just listening to it online brings a smile to my face.

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