For many people, the thought of traveling includes two very different experiences. The thought of being in your destination and the thought of getting to your destination. If you’re used to budget air travel, you are most likely familiar with inconveniences like narrow seats, non-existent leg room, awkward flight times, and extensive layovers, just to name a few. For many people, the initial thought of ever setting foot in an airport is enough to keep them from their traveling dreams. But what would it be like if air travel was a piece of the trip that a traveler actually looked forward to?
For millions of travellers in North America and Europe, the mediocre standard of air travel is underwhelming compared to that of their Middle Eastern counterparts. Here, air travel is treated like a privilege and several airlines have created innovative and impressive ways to stay competitive and put the rest of the world’s airlines to shame. According to Forbes.com, there are two airlines in particular that stand out in the industry of commercial aviation. Emirates and Qatar Airways are the industry leaders in several categories, both in-flight and on the ground. From their economy classes to their ultra-luxurious airport lounges, here are 20 perks for flying Emirates and Qatar Airways that might make you second guess booking that budget airline for your next international adventure.
20 Emirates: Plush First and Business Classes
If you ever thought a hotel in the sky wasn’t a possibility, then you weren’t looking hard enough. Emirates has turned first class into a rejuvenating, one-of-a-kind experience. With fully enclosed private suites, complete with a completely flat lying bed, big screen television, and spa sized shower, you might never want to leave. This makes those horrendous 12-plus hour flights seem more like a relaxing night in the hotel room. Although your initial instinct is to sleep the whole trip, you may want to reconsider. First and business class travelers also have access to a full-service bar. Red-eye, anyone?
19 Qatar: Comfortable Economy Class
Reading about Emirates' first and business classes to some may seem like a distant dream and that air travel like that is unattainable for the every-day adventurist. Qatar knows this and has made their economy class comfortable. Even the tallest of passengers will find Qatar Airways' 32-inch seat pitch to have more than enough leg-room. Now with a younger fleet of airplanes, designs are modern and feature wider seats that recline further to help give their passengers just that much more reprieve during their voyage. So sit back, relax and let the anti-jetlag cabin lights do their thing while you enjoy your in-flight experience.
18 Emirates: Immersive In-Flight Entertainment
In a world where so much of our entertainment is at our fingertips, airlines need top-of-the-line entertainment systems aboard their air crafts in order to stay competitive. Emirates’ award-winning entertainment system offers over 3,500 television options ranging from today’s hottest TV shows, movies, and games. Several language options are also available to accommodate for all of its passengers. If you need to stay up to date, news and sports channels are also available so you can keep up with the latest headlines. You can even partake in Emirates’ onboard education system and actually learn new languages while you fly.
17 Qatar: Complimentary Wi-fi and Mobile Service
So long are the days when you have to stay completely disconnected with the outside world while you’re in the sky. While many airlines provide Wi-Fi to their passengers, they do so at a lofty price. Qatar Airways has made the use of their internet available to all patrons at no extra cost. Sure, it’s no fiber optic, but it does enough of the job that you can scroll through your friends’ Facebook feeds to make sure you are having more fun on your trip than they're having at home. You can even text everyone back home to let them know you’re safe, or gossip about that photo you just saw pop up on your Instagram.
16 Emirates: Generous Skywards Frequent Flyer Program
If you’re a frequent budget traveler, you’re probably enrolled into several frequent flyer programs, just on the off chance that maybe some day you’ll rack up enough miles to cover a portion of your next one-way flight. With Emirates’ Skywards Frequent Flyer Program, the most loyal customers can benefit from their generous handouts of miles and rewards. There are four loyalty tiers, starting with the beginner Blue tier and the most seasoned vets landing at Platinum. Skywards members can score anything from free flights, lounge access, complimentary hotel rooms and even an upgrade to those private first class suites we were talking about.
15 Qatar: Exclusive Privilege Club Membership
Just the name Privilege Club makes any traveler want to enrol. Similar to that of Emirates’ frequent flyer program, Qatar offers a four-tier system starting with Burgundy and ending also with Platinum, in an effort to entice a more loyal passenger-base. Their perks include lounge access, priority check-in, Qatar duty-free discounts and even the ability to partake in their unique Flexi Award program. The Privilege Club offers a wide variety of benefits that any frequent flyer with Qatar would want to be a part of. Some say that being loyal can be a sign of weakness, but that’s definitely not the case when it comes to flying Qatar Airways.
14 Emirates: Free Personal Chauffeur
And we thought chauffeurs were only for royalty and the highest of business executives. Emirates has changed the game so that their First and Business class travellers no longer have to worry about how to get to and from the airport on their trip. So no more trying to phone a friend, call and Uber, haggle with a taxi driver or waiting for your common hotel shuttle to arrive. You can pull a Parent Trap moment and exit the terminal with a guy named Phillip in a black suit and hat waiting for you with your name a white board. "Take me to my hotel, Phillip!"
13 Qatar: Checked Bag Allowances
Sure, that $102 one-way ticket on that budget airline seems like a great deal, until you realize that you basically have to travel with zero baggage in order to actually save money. Some budget airlines charge anywhere from $50 to $75 just in checked bag fees. You think you can get away with just a carry-on? Some even charge for those! If you fly Qatar Airways, your ticket price comes with a nice checked bag allowance. This usually means you get one to two checked bags and a complimentary carry on and personal item. Traveling with a closet-on-wheels just got a lot easier.
12 Emirates: Expansive Flight Network
Go on to the Emirates website and book a flight to and from any destination. You'll be hard-pressed to find a combination of locations you cannot book through Emirates. Not only does Emirates have hundreds of locations on their network, they're also partnered with 16 other airlines to help get you where you need to go. You can even use your Skywards Frequent Flyer miles to book with these other airlines, just as long as you book through the Emirates website. Emirates goes the extra mile to make sure their customers get to where they need to go, and when they need to get there.
11 Qatar: Members of the OneWorld Alliance
If you’re not familiar with the OneWorld Alliance, it’s a premier airline partnership of 13 of the world's top airlines to bridge a gap in international air travel. There are even smaller, affiliate airlines that help get OneWorld passengers where they need to go. The OneWorld Alliance offers their own rewards miles program and expands Qatar Airways’ network to over 1,000 destinations. If you’re a loyal Qatar Airways traveler, you can rest assured knowing you’ll be well-taken care of by one of the other dozen airlines that are OneWorld connected. OneWorld even has its own network of airport lounges to sweeten the deal if you’re on the fence.
10 Emirates: Dubai International Airport Hub
We all know Dubai is considered one of the most modern and up-to-date cities in the world. Their airport matches that description. Emirates is based out of Dubai, so many of their flight paths may stop through Dubai and passengers may get the opportunity to spend a little time in the Dubai International Airport. Dubai Airport, thanks in part to Emirates, is the world’s third-busiest airport, which means that there’s incentive for some of the biggest and best restaurants and stores to make their way into the terminal. Eat at 5-star caliber restaurants or shop at the stores of some of the most recognized brands. Whatever you may need, the Dubai Airport will have it.
9 Qatar: Hamad International Airport Hub
Doha may not be one of the most popular cities in the world, but because of Qatar Airways’ elite service and recognition, Hamad International Airport has become a hot spot for international travel. While only opening in 2014, Hamad International Airport has ultra-modern styling, top of the line food options and again some of the biggest shopping brands in its terminals. To make things even more fun, Hamad International features a Lamp Bear statue in the center of its terminal. You heard right, a Lamp Bear. If that’s not enough incentive to be okay with a brief layover in Doha, I’m not sure what is.
8 Emirates: Free Dubai Stopover
If Dubai has always been on your bucket-list to travel to (or even if it hasn’t), Emirates offers a way for you to experience Dubai during one of your trips. When traveling through Emirates, you can score a complimentary Transit Visa so you can go out and experience Dubai during an extended layover. Enjoy discounted tours, hotels, excursions and cuisine in Dubai if you schedule your stopover through your Emirates booking. We all know that planning travel to a new city can be stressful and expensive. Emirates helps make your visit to Dubai seamless and simple on their website. So go ahead, add a couple of days to your trip.
7 Qatar: Free Doha Stopover
Similarly to the Dubai stopover, Qatar Airways has made an effort to increase the tourism traffic in their home city of Doha, Qatar. While not on the top of many traveler’s radars, Doha is an undiscovered metropolis that Qatar Airways wants to share with its international travelers. Better yet, to sweeten the deal, Qatar Airways will throw in a free hotel stay. Go to your search engine and type in Doha, you’ll have no problem adding this beautiful city to your itinerary. So feel free to enjoy the sights, sounds and fresh air in Doha because let’s face it, until you read this, it probably wasn’t very high on your to-do list when we both know it should be.
6 Emirates: No Narrow-Bodied Planes in Their Fleet
This may not seem like that big of a deal to most, but having exclusively wide-bodied aircrafts says a lot about a brand. Emirates operates with aircrafts such as the Boeing 777, Dreamliner and the world-famous, double-decker Airbus A380 which all carry many more passengers. This allows Emirates the potential to fly more passengers and bring in a higher revenue stream. Usually in business (usually used loosely) this translates to a higher investment in the comfort of its customers and more free amenities for customers to enjoy. While narrow-body planes are efficient in their own right, having only wide-bodied planes separates Emirates from the rest of its competitors.
5 Qatar: Jaw-Dropping "QSuite"
Unlike any before it, Qatar Airways has introduced a new way to fly with family, friends and colleagues. The QSuite is a four-person seating style that features the same seats as their business class cabin, but oriented in a way that the passengers can interact. The QSuite has four large, but personal, entertainment screens and four tables that can be situated to act like a table in the middle of the group. It is partially enclosed for privacy and is perfect for business professionals and personal groups to interact on a more grounded level while 10,000 feet in the sky.
4 Emirates: Redeem Rewards for Sports & Entertainment Tickets
As mentioned previously, Emirates has a rewards mileage program that, in many cases exceeds expectations of any frequent flyer. Emirates has partnered with companies and organizations internationally to give its loyal passengers even more of a reason to celebrate. Did you think the only way you could redeem your miles was during your travel experience in the sky? Think again. Emirates offers its members the ability to redeem miles for concert tickets, sporting event entry, VIP experiences and so much more. If it has been your dream to see Arsenal play at home, you might just get your wish with Emirates’ miles.
3 Qatar: Gourmet In-Flight Menu
Let’s face it, we’ve all grown accustomed to the little plastic cups with more ice than liquid during drink service or meals that would make even Aladdin think twice before stealing it. Qatar Airways has partnered with some of the world’s best chefs to create a mouth-watering menu for its passengers. The website claims that passengers may eat whenever and how often they like, but even if not, the quality of food is some of the best in the business. Even their drink menu features some of the yummiest cocktails, mocktails and simple drinks. If you have a dietary restriction, go online and let the staff know pre-flight and the crew will be conscious of your special situation. Bon appetit!
2 Emirates: Luxurious Airport Lounges
Remember the days when travelers used to arrive at the airport 4 hours early to make sure that they caught their flight in time? The long, treacherous act of waiting in the stale airport terminal added more stress and frustration to air travel. Well now there are airport lounges, where travelers can go and enjoy a clean, modern atmosphere with free food and beverages. Yes, most airlines have their own lounges, but Emirates boasts some of the largest, most luxurious lounges in the world. With over 30 Emirates lounges in the internationally, Skywards members can get access to any Emirates lounge, in addition to partner lounges all across the globe. With this perk, you might even want to get to the airport 4 hours early!
1 Qatar: Award-Winning Air Staff
Customer service can make or break a business and that holds true for airlines (just look at United). In 2016, Qatar Airways was ranked number one in customer service and punctuality, according to Airhelp.com. In 2018, Qatar Airways took over the number one spot in the Airline Worldwide Rankings for the best overall airline! Their friendly and helpful staff are trained to go above and beyond for the passengers in any way they can. No getting dragged off an airplane for you if you fly Qatar Airways. If you’re on one of their flights, you can be sure you’re being taken care of by the best of the best.
References: Emirates.com, QatarAirways.com, SoloTraveler.com, AirHelp.com, Forbes.com, DohaNews.com