Best Boutique Airlines for an Economy Long-Haul Flights

 In News, Travel

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Airlines used to be pretty much one-size-fits-all and that was about it. But in today’s market place where ‘customization’ is key ‘boutique’ airlines are popping up with specialty services and benefits to fit a variety of travelers’ needs. And just like most boutique hotels, these ‘boutique’ airlines can remain highly competitive by refocusing on service and investing in higher-quality offerings.  This is in stark contrast with traditional airlines that have become more or less cattle cars,  shuffling people from point A to point B with, unfortunately, much less finesse than used to be the standard.

Because of the boutique, meaning specialized, nature of these airlines many of them are national carriers but only operate out of select markets. While they may not have the coverage of a large multi-national carrier like British Airways or be as integral to their region’s transport as an Etihad, they are often the first choice for travelers when the route is available.

According to, “If you want to save your travel dollars to spend at your luxury destination—or can’t stretch your wallet far enough to reach the front of the plane—but still want to be treated to the luxury when you fly, these are great choices.”

While many of this new breed specialize in certain markets, they also serve many popular destinations and in fact, some carriers even go around the world – sometimes utilizing connections and partnerships with other airlines to bridge any gaps. As an added bonus, their alliance membership helps you earn miles for that deluxe-economy trip. developed a rating methodology for these boutique airlines to help determine the best cabin experiences around the world. Read more about the methodology here.

According to Skift, “For this list we looked at Economy Class, not an enhanced offering like Premium Economy”. Only boutique airlines which scored 54 or higher made it to our short list. While a few of these boutique carriers have aircraft with 10-across seating(for which they were dinged) some had significantly larger pitch (space between seats), wider or more comfortable seat structures and/or other comfort “extras” such as amenities, luxury blankets, etc.. In all, eleven airlines qualified to be on the shortlist of the Best of the Boutiques. While eight of the exclusive members of this shortlist are Asian carriers, there were three notable contenders in Europe: Finnair, SAS, and TAP Air Portugal.

The Best of the Boutiques is lead off by a three-way tie between Singapore Airlines, Asiana Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines, which each earned a rating of 58. Skift believes, through their extensive research and evaluation, that these high numbers accurately reflect the extra investments these airlines make to ensure the highest degree of passenger comfort, even at the back of the plane.

The Skift Shortlist Includes:

  • Singapore Airlines (58), Asiana Airlines (58) and Malaysia Airlines (58)
  • Korean Air (57)
  • Finnair (56), TAP Air Portugal (56)
  • Hainan Airlines (55), Virgin Australia (55)
  • Cathay Pacific (54), Thai Airways (54), SAS (54)

So the next time you’re looking for more space and luxury than a dollar bag of pretzels and a diet coke to a travel destination, peruse their FULL LIST and check out what other options might be ‘friendlier’ in the skies on one of these boutique airlines. You might be happy you did.

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