Friday, 19 April 2013

5 Best Airlines You've Never Flown

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There aren't many airlines nobody has flown—those don't last very long. But quite a few lines—even big ones—are not well-known ; some are known only in a small market. And some offer some interesting advantages and features. Here are our picks.

Alaska Airlines

Home Base and Hubs: Primary hub Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Seattle; secondary hubs at Portland (Oregon), Los Angeles, and San Jose.

What's Special: Bigger than you think: Alaska has outgrown its regional name and now resembles the late, lamented Western Airlines. It is the "smallest big line," operating hub-and-spoke schedules, two classes, and a full-featured frequent-flyer program. It generally earns good marks in traveler surveys for both performance and cabin service.

Allegiant Air

Home Base and Hubs: No "hubs" in the big-line sense; bases in Bellingham, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mesa/Phoenix, Myrtle Beach, Oakland, Sanford/Orlando, and St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

What's Special: Allegiant provides the only low-fare, nonstop flights in mainline airplanes from small communities to 10 of the nation's most important visitor destinations. Although other start-up airlines have copied its business model, none have succeeded. Allegiant plans to offer similar service from small Western communities to Hawaii starting later this year or early next.

Turkish Airlines

Home Base and Hubs: Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

What's Special: Turkish Airlines earned the "Europe's best airline" moniker with Skytrax, and the ratings are generally high for all classes of service. It offers what is reported as a good business class, an above-average economy class, and an excellent new premium economy (but so far on only a few

Virgin Australia

Home Base and Hubs: Home base and primary hub, Sydney Airport; secondary hubs at Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.

What's Special: Virgin Australia recently combined formerly separate domestic and transpacific operations and now is eclipsing the fading star of Qantas  in that part of the world. Its international economy product is fairly good, and it offers good premium-economy and business-class service. And, as with the rest of the worldwide Virgin group, nobody can beat Sir Richard Branson's particular brand of airline hype.

EVA Airways

Home Base and Hubs: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (formerly Chiang Kai-shek Airport), Taipei.

What's Special: EVA Airways pioneered the concept of premium economy, and its version is still one of the best and the one with the least markup over regular economy. EVA's regular economy is also among the best across the Pacific, and business class is competitive. For connecting travelers, EVA's  affiliate, Evergreen Hotels, at Taipei operates one of the world's few full-service, inside-security airport hotels.


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