A completely random series of mini airline reviews!
First, a disclaimer. I'm not a Business Class jet setter, most of the time I'm in Coach or, when I can swing it, Premium Economy. But I have had an opportunity to try a few different classes in a few different airlines, and here are some of my favorites, domestic and international.
There are a few basic things I see as "must-haves" for me flights: in-flight entertainment, comfortable seats, and reasonably available food options. It also doesn't hurt if the flight crew are sympathetic humans and not just phoning it in (hey there, United!)
So here are, to me, the airlines that haven't totally sucked for me and that I would recommend flying.
Virgin America: I've done both Economy and Main Cabin Select, and both are fine with as I'm a short person who pitch isn't a huge deal for, but I've always found their seats comfortable, their service great, and I love the in-flight system and ordering what I want, went I want, I love the mood lighting and I've just always been a fan of Virgin brand. They have been my go-to for going from coast to coast, and I'm admittedly broken hearted over the merger with Alaska. We'll see how that goes, if they can adopt the Virgin in-flight product I could perhaps be converted. Overall, I love Virgin America and it's been my favorite domestic carrier.
Delta- Yes, even after the crisis that almost left me stranded in Indianapolis. Outside of that they've been pretty reliable when I've flow them (even though I am not super crazy about their penchant for tight connections on multi-leg flights), I find their mobile app incredibly useful, and their newer planes are pretty darn nice. They also have Biscoff cookies. This can be a deal breaker for me. I'm not super crazy about them not really have more actual meal options on long, domestic hauls, but the in-flight product itself hasn't made me want to combust like United does, and overall they've been a solid workhorse of a carrier this year.
Jet Blue- I've flown them twice, and found them a perfectly comfortable airline. I hear the Mint product is great, and if you can get the extra-room seats, those are pretty nice. Good seats, good prices, and feels less like Greyhound of the Sky that Southwest feels like.
Hawaiian- Another great one, with a pretty specific routing, and I really enjoyed my flight with them last year and the free rum punch! I found their economy seats can actually be pretty nice, especially if you can score seats in the 2-seat section rows with the person you're traveling with. I hear their new business class product is pretty nifty and will hopefully get a chance to try it at some point.
Virgin Atlantic- I am not kidding when I say I love the Virgin air carriers, and Atlantic is no exception. I've flown Economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class at this point, and their Upper Class is one of hell of a nice product and something I am willing to blow frequent flier miles on anytime I can. I love their flight crews, I love how they lay out meal service, I'm vaguely obsessed with the Noble Isles Rhubarb Rhubarb! hand lotion in their Upper Class bathrooms (which I may have bought a bottle of at Liberty last month) and overall.
As Premium Economy goes, I think I actually prefer the "preferred seating/extra leg room" Economy seats better. Premium Economy is okay, and you get slightly more bells and whistles, but I honestly really liked the extra room Economy seats on their 787 a whole long, to the point where I'd rather just pay for those. The recline on them was pretty nice too!
Everything about them has been consistently good for me and they're pretty much my go-to for flying to the UK when I can swing it.
Airberlin- I flew Airberlin to get home from Italy in June, and was really surprised by how much I actually liked it! It's been traditionally seen as not much a big player and not quite low-cost, but not quite prestigious. I was able to get a pretty good price on one way back to SFO with a connection in Dusseldorf (which is a lovely airport) and pick their XL seats at a reasonable price. The pitch on the XL seats is actually pretty damn generous with a surprisingly decent recline, the IFE had a great selection, and the meal service was quite decent. Since they're Oneworld, you can often snag pretty decent deals during Oneworld's seasonal promotions, and Airberlin is often running deals from various cities as well.
Norwegian- Yes, Norwegian. Forgoing their infamous issues two years ago with flights being super delayed, their 787s are quite nice, and the pricing is pretty fantastic. We flew Premium to Gatwick last month, and the food was good, the service good, and I'd say it was on part with Virgin's premium product, but more affordable. The only thing I have a bit of issue with was needing a bit more lumbar support, but that's nothing an extra pillow can't fix. And, before remarks about the flight crew arises, our crew was a mix of Bay area residents and British, and our pilot was also British. There's been some debate over Norwegian's employment practices, but thus far from my first-hand experience I didn't see any corners cut.
Obviously your mileage may vary on which airlines you love and which you despise, but I would say give these carriers a chance, at the very least you'll get where you need to go.