My 9 Favorite Flights Of 2018

Filed Under: Travel

As 2018 draws to a close, I thought it would be fun to look back at my nine favorite flights of the year.

This isn’t exclusively intended to be a list of the nine most luxurious flights I’ve been on this year, but rather flights that impressed me for a variety of reasons (as you’ll see, there’s an economy flight on a 30 year old 737 on the list), which I’ll explain below.

But this list is also intended to reflect some of the innovation we’ve seen in the past year or so, as we’ve seen some phenomenal new first and business class products introduced.

So here are my nine most memorable flights of 2018, starting with my favorite (each listing has a link to the trip report):

Emirates 777 new first class Dubai to Brussels

This January I had the chance to fly Emirates’ brand new 777 first class, which I consider to be the best in the world. This product is not only blingy beyond belief, but actually well executed.

Emirates’ new first class has individual cabins (not just doors, but rather truly fully enclosed suites), temperature and lighting controls like I’ve never seen before on a plane, and even a “hatch” through which they can serve you champagne.

Insane.

Qatar 777 Qsuites New York to Doha

About 18 months ago Qatar Airways revolutionized business class with the introduction of Qsuites, the world’s best business class.

Qatar already had the world’s best business class soft product, thanks to their amazing amenities, delicious food and drinks, and dine on demand service concept. But they took it to the next level by introducing a business class product with doors at every seat.

Air Belgium A340 business class Charleroi to Hong Kong

I have an obsession with new airlines, and Air Belgium is one of those airlines that has been on my radar for a while.

After significant delays they started flying between Charleroi and Hong Kong this summer, though the route only ended up lasting for a few months before it was canceled, and before the airline switched to a leasing business model instead, at least for now.

There was something so cool about taking this flight, both because I never thought they’d take to the skies, and because it was the emptiest longhaul flight I’ve ever been on, with just a couple of dozen passengers. There was only one other person in business class.

British Airways A318 Club World London City New York to London

This November I took British Airways’ swanky Club World London City service from New York, which is an all business class Airbus A318 with just 32 business class seats.

British Airways has greatly improved their amenities and food, so when you combine that with the generally private feel of this flight, it’s a really special experience.

Oman Air 787 first class Muscat to London

Oman Air is one of my favorite boutique airlines, as I love how much local flair they put into the experience. This summer Oman Air introduced a new first class product, and I had the chance to fly the inaugural from Muscat to London.

The new cabin was beautiful, and I genuinely enjoyed the flight, though they still had some service kinks to work out. While the food onboard was incredible, I do have to say that Oman Air’s business class is so great that I’m not sure I have to fly their first class again.

Singapore A380 new Suites Sydney to Singapore

About a year ago Singapore Airlines introduced their new A380 Suites from Sydney to Singapore. This is an impressive-looking first class cabin, and at first glance it may appear to be the world’s best first class product.

However, as I found, there were a lot of areas where I feel they dropped the ball, including the lack of air nozzles, how hard the bed is, the seating position when dining, etc. It’s still an excellent product, I just wasn’t as blown away as I was hoping to be.

Air North 737 economy Whitehorse to Vancouver

When most people think of travel within North America, they don’t think of a terribly pleasant experience. That’s why Air North is so amazing. I flew one of their (old) 737s from Whitehorse to Vancouver, and it was hospitality you just don’t otherwise experience in economy within north America anymore.

There were complimentary cookies, juice, and coffee in the gate area, and they had tasty snacks onboard. The beautiful sunrise didn’t hurt either!

Singapore A350 business class Singapore to Newark

This year Singapore Airlines relaunched the world’s longest flight, between Singapore and Newark. 18 hours is a long time to spend in one airplane seat.

This was a really special flight, and as an aviation geek it was cool to fly almost 10,000 miles nonstop. However, I have to say that while I enjoyed the flight, I’m not dying to take it again. The service was excellent, but I don’t love Singapore Airlines’ seats, they don’t really have any social areas, and I found the meal service to be quirky.

JetBlue A321 Mint Boston to Los Angeles

I’ve flown JetBlue Mint several times before, though this year only flew it once, from Boston to Los Angeles.

JetBlue Mint continues to be a refreshing take on domestic travel. JetBlue is the world’s first airline to have doors in business class, and on top of that, they have consistently excellent service and food, and free wifi. I love JetBlue Mint.

Bottom line

The past couple of years have been great in terms of product innovation, as we’ve seen the introduction of both the world’s best first class and world’s best business class. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.

What was your favorite flight of 2018?

Comments
  1. Lucky, you really have a short memory. I remember you really put down one of the flight you just listed here. It’s the Singapore A350 business class Singapore to Newark flight.

    Geez Lucky, just make up your mind.

  2. Excellent way to wrap up 2018, Lucky! Love your choices especially Air North. I’m surprised you didn’t throw in the second TAAG flight in there just for “the experience “.

    I don’t get to travel international very much but I’m about to get on my 6th Mint flight this year in a couple hours. Glad to see you included it. Never gets old!

  3. I flew JetBlue SF to JFK this year on the 7am flight and loved their Mint class!! Booked really early – as soon as seats became available (about 6 months prior) and nabbed the 2nd row seat with a door. My only complaint was being woken by the pilot feeling it was necessary to tell everyone we had reached the half-way point. I know, first world problem.

  4. Latam LA1 SCL-PNT, make sure to get a window seat on the lefthand side of the plane.
    Watching the mountains and glaciers was incredible. Not been this excited on a flight since I was a kid.

  5. @Lucky – Last year i made a map of all of the flights you reviewed on gcmap as I made my own. I didn’t share it last time however I just made one for your travels this year and wanted to share it. Here you will find all of the flights you reviewed or specifically shared and said you wouldn’t review. I hope you enjoy (and feel free to edit or add more of your flights as you wish)! Here’s the link:

    http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=ZRH-FRA-DEL-CMB-DXB-BRU-LIS-EWR%2C+JFK-DOH-EVN-DOH-JFK%2C+LAX-CAN-SIN-SYD-SIN-PVG-LAX%2C+LAX-MUC%2C+LIS-LAD-GRU-LAX%2C+YYZ-DTW-PEK-BKK-HKG-LAX%2C+SJC-LHR-CDG-SEZ-IST-LAX%2C+JFK-KBP-LHR-SGN-PVG-HKG-LAX%2C+LAX-DXB-MXP-JTR-MXP-DXB-LAX%2C+EWR-VIE-CAI-MCT-LHR%2C+CRL-HKG-ICN-SFO-+IAH-FRA-TLL-RIX-FRA-BOS-LAX%2C+MIA-UIO-MIA%2C+JFK-MXP%2C+FRA-YXY-YVR%2C+IAD-AUH-AMD-SIN-EWR%2C+JFK-NBO-LHR-JFK-LCY%2C+LHR-NBO-KGL-BRU-LGW-JFK%2C+SFO-MEL-SIN-KUL-NRT-ORD&MS=wls&DU=mi

    Also, my favorite flight this year was flying Qatar Qsuite from Doha to JFK in August 🙂

  6. Two top ones for me. Virgin Australia’s “The Business” on my birthday from Melbourne to LAX, lengthening my birthday to a whopping 43 hours. Then Thai First Class from Bangkok to Sydney; last trip on the old United rates and the best congee & breakfast I’ve ever had

  7. Favorite flight of this year has got to be VS154 JFK-LHR a few days ago. Apart from the fact that I have no words to describe how much I love Virgin Atlantic – my will to love goes up by like 50% each time I fly with them – I also happened to have the same cabin crew member working my aisle as when I flew VS137 LHR-JFK a few days before that. It was incredibly special to have someone come up to my seat to greet me personally, be (or at the very least seem to be) genuinely happy to see me again, and even remember how I like my tea…

  8. Nice Article – nice to see wee Air North on the list; as well as Air Belgium; wishing you a happy New Year’s eve

  9. I like the rundown, but I can’t help think some of these are in here more as a summary than actually a ‘top 9 best flights’ – the singapore flight review finished with “So I’d recommend the flight for the novelty, but I’m not dying to take this flight again… at all.”
    ..which to me kind of goes against what a top 9 flight should be? It should be one you are dying to take again! Anyway, maybe I missed the point here. Good round up either way, just not sure of how it has been framed.

  10. 1) Tupolev 154 OVB-PYJ-DME 2) B737-200 LIM-CUS 3) 1st LH F FRA-MIA (other flights in LH F this year weren’t even close to this one) 4) jump seat on a 3 hour intra European on B738 5) all flights on 747 including Rossiya to Crimea, Russia – I would say it was a pretty good year! Thanks for great articles and all the best to 2019.

  11. Great list Ben, some interesting additions. I swear you were in Air France La Premiere this year but I might be wrong. I would think it would make the list if you did. I flew it the other day for the first time and it was incredible. One of the best in the world for sure. They are now offering fairly reasonable upgrades from Business Class when checking in (a’la British Airways system) so it’s now becoming more approachable for some as well. I even did it from an award business class booking which I found really surprising.

  12. @Nico. It was around $1600 total. While I would not have added that expense on to a paid business fare this was off an already free ticket in business (booked with AF direct using cc points transfer) at 55K Miles one way (very cheap redemption I assume given the holidays). Not sure if it would offer the same “upgrade” option if using SkyMiles to book but def worth checking in online (which I did and where it was offered) 24 hours in advance and see if the screen pops up. While BA offers similar on paid business they usually come in much cheaper at around $800.00 – but have never seen them offer it from a reward redemption ticket. To me, that’s what makes this so remarkable.

    I was the only person in La Premiere on Saturday night (my birthday) so it made for quite a nice experience. The escort service on arrival was almost worth it alone! I was in my taxi in about 10 minutes after the drive in the BMW to customs and out the door. If it was BA, or really anyone else, I would not have paid it as I have options in F with these other carriers. But the difficulty of redemptions for Premiere and its elusive nature made it a go for me at this offer to at least try it once.

  13. Only flown 4 flights this year, all on Ryanair! You know what, for what it costs it’s not bad at all.

    My fancy first and business class flight life is currently on-hold, so now I live vicariously though this blog 🙂

  14. Ben – does the new Singapore suite make any sense for a couple traveling together? I just can’t see the logic behind having two seats so far away from each other. The double bed is fantastic, but when you’re not sleeping, you’re sitting two beds away from each other….You’re dining two beds away from each other…. Am I missing something? Sounds idiotic.

  15. Just flew China Airlines hybrid fare of Premium Economy for the longhaul and regular economy for the short connecting flights on the Asia end via Taipei.

    These four flights (two longhaul PE JFK-TPE-JFK Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and two short haul TPE-MNL and HKG-TPE Airbus A330-300s in regular Economy) were among the best flights taken in years on any airline.

    This includes the four Virgin Atlantic flights taken in February and March of 2018 to Johannesburg and back via London/Heathrow – which were all very good flights.

    But, the China Airlines flights were still all better in many ways, except perhaps for the PE seats, which CI uses the fixed shells similar to Air France and Aeroflot for PE.

    In that regard, Virgin’s PE seats were far more comfortable.

    But the food, even for the two very short intra-Asia flights on CI, was very good and execeeded our expectations.

    And the service on the ground and in the air was exceptional.

    Truly, the best flights taken in quite some time on any airline in any class, too!

    And fwiw, the economy class service on China Airlines was much better than that of Cathay Pacific’s was for our flight between Manila and Hong Kong in Economy class.

    Don’t get me wrong; Cathay’s service was far from bad! It just was not nearly as good as China Airlines’ was.

    Although one area it appears Asian airlines are not so good at is making drinks. On that front, be it China Airlines or according to the other 12 family members who flew Korean Airlines, when it comes to mixology – NOT so much 🙁

    Perhaps the folks at Korean and China Airlines should spend some time flying fellow SkyTeam airline AeroMexico whose drinks are exceptional!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *