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Information about airlines & their fleets, worldwide

Travel Forums General Talk Information about airlines & their fleets, worldwide

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1. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

The "Turkish Airlines" thread gave me the idea to start a new thread, dedicated to questions about airlines worldwide and what aircraft they fly. And what their safety record, and reputation in general, might be. First of a bit of information about myself:

I have been interested in commercial aviation all my life (and no, I am not a pilot!), and for the last 30 years we've had our own little business, maintaining a database with information (transaction history, i.e. sales, leases, retirements, crashes, etc.) about every single airliner/transport aircraft and executive aircraft built over the last 70 years (by manufacturer's serial number for each aircraft). We have provided this information to just about all the major companies in the industry for many years. We also publish a monthly aviation magazine with this information. We just published issue # 510. The first issue was published by me in 1966, so I have done this continuously for the last 43 years.

A lot of this type of information is now also available via the Internet, but it may not necessarily be entirely up-to-date. Thanks to a large network of contacts around the world, the information I have access to, and that goes into our database is often current up to what happens today. When Ryanair received a new Boeing 737-800 (EI-EFC) and it arrived at Dublin day before yesterday (May 15), I had that information pretty much the moment the aircraft touched down at Dublin. Ryanair, incidentally, has one of the newer fleets in Europe. They currently have a total of 187 737-800s, all acquired brand new. They are actually in the process of selling some aircraft that were only acquired around 2001 (they have been sold to the leasing company CIT Aerospace and most of them are going on lease to Garuda Indonesian).

I often see questions from someone who wants to know the difference between different airlines - what aircraft types they operate, or more likely, if those aircraft are new or old, and what reputation (safety, service) a particular airline may have. I have access to, or knowledge about, all of this and will be happy to provide specific information about specific airlines and the aircraft they fly. Incidentally, the oldest jetliners in passenger service ANYWHERE in the world are two DC-9-14s with East African Safari Air Express. They were built in 1965. The oldest jetliners in service here in the USA are a handful of DC-9-31s with Northwest Airlines. They were built in 1967. No other U.S. airline has any aircraft in their inventory that's even remotely that old! Age isn't necessarily a bad thing if maintenance is performed often and appropriately. That's the case in the USA, but may not necessarily be the case in countries like Nigeria or Congo....

If anyone has any aviation related questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them.

2. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 769 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Cool, I will be first to ask a question... I am flying Manchester - Dubai - Seoul on Thursday on a 777-33ER (?) I think and it is with Emirates. Is it a good one to fly on?

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5635 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

To add a bit of information for travellers/passengers that want to know a lot instead of waiting for replies on questions:

Check the airlinequality website, I found it really helpful with almost all information.

Of course, for information pure about choosing your seat, check the seatguru website.

Just some regular info, there is a lot of info on the internet which is very useful I think. Still, regarding reviews of airlines my personal experience is that (like other reviews) people tend to give reviews quicker when they had a bad experience, not a good experience (I said quicker, not that there aren't any positive ones).
I had a great trip with Air France, with 2 changes of planes, not too much time between the flights and all luggage arrived perfectly. Food is the best, service also, entertainmentsystem, even leg space was ok. And even in planes that have been noted as a little cramped because of a 3-4-3 layout.


4. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


Emirates is one of the fastest expanding airlines in the world. While that may not necessarily be good, in Emirates case it apparently is. They have an excellent reputation as far as service goes. Their goal really is to surpass Singapore Airlines, which is generally considered to be one of the top airlines, if not THE top airline, when it comes to excellent service. Emirates, because of its fast expansion also has a very young fleet. They currently operate a total of 43 Boeing 777-300ERs (plus other types). The oldest of those 43 is just over 4 years old, and the most recent one was only just delivered on April 30th, less than three weeks ago. You should have a great travelling experience!

And Utrecht, you are completely correct - as I mentioned in my post, a lot of this information is also available on the Internet, and it's obviously always useful to hear from others who may have travelled with a particular airline. The information and background on a particular airline that I can provide doesn't take the place of that type of knowledge/experience. It's just an additional piece of information, that some may find interesting and useful.


5. Posted by Hien (Travel Guru 3906 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I've heard of lots of good comments about Emirates, this and that, but they never made it to the Skytrax 5-star airlines. What do they lack? Are they really as good as the comments said about them?

6. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4138 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I flew Emirates; long haul from Sydney - Kuala Lumpur - Dubai - London, and they were okay but not really any better than any others. What I did notice was that there was little leg room and the seats were pretty hard.

7. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5635 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Hien

I've heard of lots of good comments about Emirates, this and that, but they never made it to the Skytrax 5-star airlines. What do they lack? Are they really as good as the comments said about them?

Well, guess things keep un being a little personal and subjective, although the 5-star rating might be the most objective you can get. Still, I found Cathay Pacific on my trip from Amsterdam - HK - Oz not good, especially leg space and overall impression. Service is good though.

I like honesty, but me saying that I have never heard of Kingfisher Airlines is really embarrassing

8. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

The best airlines I've flown on (taking cost and service into account) are.... Air Canada, BA (incredibly good compensation package when they double-booked my seat to Lusaka - just unbeatable), Ryanair (mad cheap and so far, always on time landing - even though they're often late taking off) and VLM. The VLM plane (Manchester to Antwertpen) is, I think, called a Fokker-50. It's a little twin prop thing with about 50 seats - maybe that's why they call it a 50. The service on board is just first class (literally) all the way. It's only a short flight of about 1.5 hours - and the food is just excellent. Last time I travelled with them, just a few weeks ago - the breakfast was a full monty, with juice, hot bread and endless tea or coffee - plus hot face towels afterwards. And at Antwerpen, your bags are always waiting for you. There's no hanging about.
The very worst service I've done (many times) is with Tarom (Romanian national carrier). The planes are always smelly and dirty - and the food is a total disgrace. Last time I travelled with them, it was an afternoon flight and the lunch (HUH!!) was a slice of dry bread and a piece of pork fat wrapped in a grapevine leaf. Oh and the flight was very expensive. An airline I took a few years ago - that has now gone down the pan was Excaliber. Utter tosh from start to finish. The cabin kept filling up with fumes of some sort.
Two of the best airlines I've taken, that have now gone - are Royal Airlines (London Stansted to Winnipeg - excellent service and food) and Zoom (same excellence throughout too).
The cheapest flight I've ever done was last year - Varna to Sofia with Wizzair. It cost 12Leva (about £4) one way including tax and fees etc. It was supposed to take an hour - but between runways was just over 40 minutes. Superb.

9. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


That Skytrax rating is interesting, but inevitably with this type of rating system there are bound to be inconcistencies. Both Cathay and Singapore are listed in the 5 star category. I have flown both, and would definitely rate Singapore superior to Cathay. And, interestingly, both SAS and United are in the 3 star category. I have flown both airlines hundreds of times (in the case of SAS, actually about 800 flights since I was 13), and I would certainly rate both airlines much above some of others in the 3 star category. And I'm not being critical of these ratings - to me it just shows how difficult, or even impossible, it is to create a "fair" rating system.

Two individuals, flying the very same airline, but on different routes and different types of equipment, could come away with widely different opinions. United Air Lines is a perfect example. I belong to the United Mileage program (they have plenty of flights to/from Hawaii, which makes it the most logical choice for me), and have travelled on United many times between Honolulu and Europe, always via the U.S. mainland of course. My preference is to pay for an economy ticket and then use my miles to upgrade to Business Class. On a long trip, it makes a big difference. Leaving London, for instance, on a United Boeing 777, bound for the USA, you have so much room in Business Class that even if you stretch out your legs as far as you can, you will not be able to touch the seat in front of you with your feet. And service is really outstanding. Then, after you arrive in the USA, and get on a 757, 767 or 777 for the onward flight to Honolulu, you are automatically in First Class, because there is no Business Class on these domestic flights. Interestingly, transferring from international Business Class to domestic First Class on United is a MAJOR disappointment. The seats may be just as wide, but the space to the seat in front of you is VERY limited, and service, good as it may be, is nowhere near the level of international Business Class.

I'm sure there are as many examples as there are airlines!


[ Edit: Edited on 18-May-2009, at 12:36 by bgl ]

10. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

So what about thoughts on the 'Worst' airlines - anybody??