SOURCE: Premier Traveler Magazine

Premier Traveler Magazine

November 16, 2012 09:00 ET

Premier Traveler Readers Rank the Best

Etihad, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines Among the Best of 2012; Actor Chad Michael Murray Takes Center Stage at the Magazine's Awards Gala to Rally Support for the Ronald McDonald House New York (RMDH-NY)

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Nov 16, 2012) - More than 10,000 Premier Traveler readers, a demanding breed who traverse the globe for a living, have selected a handful of airlines including Etihad, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Delta as the Best of 2012. On November 8th, at a glittering awards gala at Sofitel LA, publisher Linda Vaughan shared center stage with actor Chad Michael Murray to kick off the magazine's annual charity auction benefiting RMDH-NY.

Two young airlines in the Middle East took top prizes for flying long haul routes with panache. Qatar Airways, voted Best Airline to the Middle East and Best Overall Airline in the World, begins pampering passengers before boarding in Doha at a resort style Premium Terminal, where First and Business Class flyers can spa, sleep and dine white tablecloth style, even at breakfast. "We will always cater to the frequent traveler and will indulge them with unmatched luxury and comfort in flight," vows Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. "The future looks bright for us and we will continue to grow at a bold pace." In 2013 Qatar adds nonstops to Doha from Chicago, the fourth US gateway after New York, Houston and Washington, DC, and will be the first Middle Eastern airline to join an Alliance.

Gracious hospitality earns Etihad Airways the Best Airline in the Middle East crown: "Our onboard culinary professionals come from luxury restaurants and hotels," reveals Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways' Chief Commercial Officer, "enabling Etihad Airways to deliver five star dining in the air." Classically trained chefs prepare meals for Diamond First Class passengers and professional Food and Beverage managers will supervise culinary and wine service in both Premium cabins. Seamless end-to-end service is the goal at Etihad Airways where Premium passengers receive extras like complimentary chauffeur service on both ends of their journey and frequent flyer benefits valid on other airlines, with veteran crews flying one of the youngest fleets in the skies.

Delta, the legacy carrier voted Best Airline for North American Travel, is not resting on its laurels. "Delta is currently investing billions on everything from booking to baggage claim," says Tim Mapes, SVP-Marketing. "For customers, this means more onboard comfort, world-class airport facilities, innovative technology and exceptional personal service."

When our readers hear "Virgin" they know they're in for a treat. "At Virgin Atlantic," voted Airline with the Best Business Class Service in the World, "it's about constantly creating a unique flying experience," says Chris Rossi, Senior VP of North America. "In the last year, despite the tough economic climate, we've invested nearly $160 million in product. Onboard our new A330s, passengers now enjoy an Upper Class Suite with a longer and even more comfortable seat, a stylish bar, a new inflight entertainment system and mood lighting to enhance their experience day or night." On the ground, Virgin Atlantic is revamping its lounges: The New York-themed JFK Clubhouse is now located post security, closer to the gates, for maximum relaxation before boarding. As always, this pioneering airline goes above and beyond: "For us at Virgin," Rossi maintains, "it's about challenging the status quo." 

For its exceptional mix of low fares, stylish design, tech-forward amenities and outstanding guest service, Virgin America has been voted Best North American Airline for First-Class Service, Best In-Flight Service in North America and Best Domestic Airline. "Our teammates have worked tirelessly to reinvent the flying experience for travelers over the last five years," observes Director of Loyalty Phil Seward, most recently a suite of enhancements to the Elevate® frequent flyer program that gives elite members priority check-in, security clearance and boarding, free checked bag allowances, and complimentary space-available upgrades to Main Cabin Select. The newest twist offers elite level frequent fliers from United and American comparable status on Elevate through April 30, 2013. For example, MileagePlus Premier Silver and AAdvantage Gold members become Elevate Silver for six months with just a few clicks. http://www.virginamerica.com/vx/statusmatch

In addition to celebrating this year's victors, the Sofitel LA Gala launched Premier Traveler's annual fundraising efforts to benefit the RMDH-NY. After actor Chad Michael Murray spoke about the organization's work, Calli Kalman and her father Frank Kalman presented a riveting first person success account: Calli, who had battled cancer since age 12, half her life, is now a healthy college graduate married to "the love of her life" after RMDH-NY helped her receive treatment. Patrick Khoury, Senior Director of U.S. Sales at Air Canada,was so moved by their story he offered Calli and her new husband two tickets to anywhere the airline flies.

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