The opportunity to book flights on international airlines and explore other countries has been enticing travelers for generations. In the 21st century, choosing the right international airline is more important than ever as carriers and travel websites constantly shift their available discounts, amenities, routes, seating options, and fares. All of these choices can affect safety, comfort, and convenience, as well as the level of service you enjoy during your trip. Here are a few international travel tips and ideas for people who are looking for the best airlines to fly international.
Quicklook: Best International Airlines from U.S.
- British Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- United Airlines
- Korean Air
Best Airlines To Fly International
Flying internationally can be complicated enough, even when you’ve already chosen your airline. But if you need help choosing the best international airline for your trip, the most important factor is your destination. Different airlines fly to different destinations and most carriers have specific regions where their routes and fares offer the best options for that part of the world. If you start by narrowing down your destination to a specific region, country, or city, then your best options will often make themselves clear, based on available routes and flight times.
Best Airlines from U.S. to Europe
Choosing the best airlines from the U.S. to Europe depends on your definition of “best.” If you want an airline with more routes to European cities, choose American Airlines or Delta Air Lines. If you’re looking for an international airline that offers more European connections to other international cities, consider British Airways.
- “British Airways Business Class is a solid product and a great option for flying between New York and London.”
- “Had an excellent flight from London to the U.S. recently. Excellent service and the flight was on time. Food was good and desert was really good. Clean bathrooms. Love the business class with American.”
- “Absolutely amazed how well our trip to London, England, went during these crazy travel times. Delta was fabulously spot on.”
Best Airlines from U.S. to Mexico
For traveling between the U.S. and Mexico, it’s hard to beat Delta Air Lines and its close affiliation with Aeromexico. Delta owns a large percentage of Aeromexico, creating a strong partnership that together offers flights between more cities in both Mexico and the U.S. Connecting between the two airlines is intentionally simple, offering smooth transitions from one leg of your journey to the next. Both airlines boast a fleet that’s eco-friendly and boasts some of the most modern aircraft available. Looking for more affordable fares to Mexico? Consider Southwest Airlines, which operates several routes between the U.S. and some of Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations.
- Travelers Say:
“Great flight and time. Best in-flight entertainment. Would always take Delta when flying to Cancun.”
- “Southwest is my carrier of preference when flying to and from Cabo. They are great at customer service and they do everything in their power to accommodate your every need.”
- “Our trip to Cancun via Southwest Airlines was seamless. Even our return flight went without a snag.”
Best Airlines From U.S. to The Caribbean
The Caribbean offers U.S. residents many wonderful opportunities for quick getaways to an island paradise. The best airlines from the U.S. to the Caribbean include JetBlue Airways, Southwest, and Delta Air Lines, which offer frequent flights between some of the region’s most popular vacation destinations.
- “OK, a long time United Airlines flyer, we could not pass up the flight times and price of JetBlue for our trip to St. Lucia. WOW! New plane, on time, seamless flights, FANTASTIC FLIGHT ATTENDANTS WHO WERE SO PROFESSIONAL AND COURTEOUS!!”
- “Our first flight with Delta and it was pretty awesome! The crew was very professional, friendly and attentive. Customer service was definitely a priority. The flight was comfortable, great movie choices. EXCELLENT job Delta!”
- “At our layovers the staff and crew are right there to assist me in making connections. Most times our connection is in BWI and MBJ the folks at these stops go above and beyond duty. Thank you Southwest.”
Best Airlines from U.S. to South America
Delta Air Lines’ history with South America reaches back to its very beginnings in the 1920s. In 2019 it was named United States’ Leading Airline to South America. Also, Delta has acquired a 20 percent stake in South American airline LATAM, making it the top U.S. airline for South American destinations.
- “The food was better than previous international flights I have had with Delta. Flight arrived on time and my luggage arrived in great shape.”
- “My wife and I go to visit my family almost every year and for the past years we ONLY use Delta. Amazing service, brand new airplane, comfortable, super friendly, they will accommodate you anyway they can.”
Best Airlines from U.S. to Asia
United Airlines offers a large number of routes from the U.S. to Asia, giving travelers ample destination options from points across the U.S. Major Asian international carriers fly to West Coast cities, but few offer routes to American cities in the Midwest, South, and the East Coast. Korean Air offers world-class service to Asia from cities throughout the U.S. Also, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) offers a premium, award-winning product to and from Asia from major U.S. cities.
- “We fly Korean Air frequently and feel special every time. They give you slippers, wipes, and constantly bring food and drink to offer you.”
- “ANA’s service out from SFO to Narita and on to Jakarta was impeccable. The food was first class.”
- “Wow, UA is finally getting Business Class cabin service and food up to global standards.”
Best Airlines from U.S. to Australia
United Airlines is among the best U.S. carriers that fly to Australia, but if you want to immerse yourself in the Aussie experience, try flying the nation’s flagship airline, Qantas, which offers 10 flights from the U.S. to three different Australian cities, including travel on the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380. The superjumbo includes updated business-class cabin suites and an upper deck lounge.
- “Great service, friendly staff and that high quality Quantas service we love.”
- “Everything about the flight was perfect. My best flight ever on Qantas.”
- “I loved my experience and I would definitely fly again with United Airlines very soon.”
International Travel Tips
Choosing an international airline is what you make it. Do you want luxury or economy? Lots of various destinations or a few spectacular ones? These choices and others will define which carrier you choose as your best international airline.
The destinations you choose will largely guide your available options, so choose your routes carefully. Every continent, country, city, and neighborhood offers an opportunity to surround yourself in a new culture with the chance to meet new and fascinating people.
Because many international flights can last 10 hours or more, arriving at your destination refreshed and in the mood to conduct business or to explore is important–and could make or break your entire journey.
That’s why choosing the right airline for your international flight is critical.
With that in mind, here are a few things you may want to know before you book your next trip to another country.
How Do I Get a Passport?
Although the details surrounding the passport process are different in every country, typically, it begins with gathering your official identification documents, such as a driver’s license and birth certificate. Next, find the website for the state department of the government where you’re a citizen. Search for information about applying for passports. Download a form and fill out the required information, including information from your identification documents. Copies of your identification documents will most likely be required, as well as a headshot photo cropped to specific dimensions. You will likely have to pay a fee for the passport. If you prefer, these websites will list office locations where you can bring your identification documents, photo and payment to apply in person. If you follow directions and all goes smoothly, it often takes several weeks to receive your passport.
What To Look For When Choosing an International Airline
When it comes to choosing an international airline, everyone has different priorities. Your choice of airline may depend on a combination of infinite factors, including comfort, safety, services, amenities, seating, ticket fares, routes, times, and even what type of aircraft you want to fly on. Let’s take a quick look at some of these factors.
International flights often require passengers to remain seated for 10 hours or more, which makes the distance between seats a very important metric–especially for passengers with long legs and wide behinds. The common measurements for this are width and seat pitch–the distance from seatback to seatback. Each airline determines seat configurations for its aircraft. SeatGuru.com has some of the best data on seat dimensions. If seat comfort is important to you, book your international flight accordingly.
Flying on commercial airlines is proven to be among the safest modes of travel in the world, according to carefully monitored and easily available data. That’s largely due to regulatory oversight by aviation authorities in each country.
Sometimes, if the food, drinks, and inflight entertainment are good enough, they can make a good international flight unforgettable. The best international airlines know this, and so they make a point of offering passengers delicious meals, refreshing beverages, and top-notch options for movies, TV, and games. Check out the food, drink, and entertainment fare listed on each airline’s website or app.
Amenities on international flights can range from the bare basics (like free headphones), to semi-private, lie-flat seats with accouterments such as skincare products, eyeshades, blankets, and pillows, to the extreme–including a private suite and an onboard shower. Amenities are listed on each airline’s website. If amenities are important to you, then book your airline accordingly.
Some air travelers consider an airline’s fleet when booking international flights. Every airline’s fleet offers a different mix of aircraft, each with various attributes pertaining to age, cabin size, engine noise, and seat configuration. Travelers who know, for example, that a specific international airline flies a new aircraft type on a particular route may wish to book that airline for their trip because they are familiar with the aircraft and want the specific attributes that type of jetliner offers.
Get Ready To Fly To Another Country
Now that you’ve learned about options for choosing the best international airlines and which factors to pay attention to, you’re ready to book your flight and start your unforgettable journey, exploring unique locations and fascinating cultures. And if you’re interested in learning more about aviation, including how to learn to be a pilot, sign up for a subscription to FLYING Magazine.
The cheapest airline to Europe depends on the time of year as well as your departure point and your destination. But in general, Norse Atlantic Airways offers some of the cheapest flights from New York City to London, as does Ryan Air. JetBlue Airways offers some of the cheapest flights from New York City to London as well as from Los Angeles to London. Wizz Air also has some of the cheapest fares from Los Angeles to London.
Yes it is safe to travel now, although just like everything else in life, there are no guarantees. The keys to safe travel are knowing your personal limitations and doing your research about where you’re going. Then, based on your research, execute best practices for the countries you plan to visit. Is COVID-19 an issue in the country where you’re planning to travel? What about local security concerns such as terrorism or unrest? Find out by checking the U.S. State Department website, which regularly updates specific travel advisories for hundreds of countries around the world.
It depends on where you’re coming from and where you’re going. For example, if you’re flying from the United States to a U.S. territory in the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, then no, the Caribbean would not be considered international travel. If you’re traveling from one country to another in the Caribbean, then yes, it would be considered international travel.