Hobbits might not need the extra legroom, but they know a good airline when they see one.
Air New Zealand, the carrier that has regularly pressed the diminutive denizens of Middle Earth into service in its advertising campaigns, has been named the world’s best airline.
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Australia-based safety assessment website AirlineRatings.com says the airline came top of its 2015 “airline excellence” chart because of its reputation as a “trendsetter.”
It also led the website’s top 10 airlines for 2015.
This is the second year in a row the airline has scooped the Airline of the Year prize.
AirlineRatings said Air New Zealand had been honored for “its award winning in-flight innovations, record financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff.”
The 75-year-old airline was also praised for its “commitment to a young, technologically-advanced fleet and its continual focus on the environment.”
It was also presented with AirlineRatings’ Best Premium Economy Class award.
“Quite simply Air New Zealand is an airline of first choice. And given the airline’s location and the country’s size its performance is even more remarkable,” Geoffrey Thomas, the agency’s chief editor, said.
Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer, Christopher Luxon, said the award recognized the “outstanding efforts” of his airline’s 11,000 staff.
Multiple prizes were also doled out for down-under flyer Qantas — honored for Best Domestic Service, Best Catering and Best Lounges, with a special commendation for its safety record.
Etihad Airways scooped Best First Class, Cathay Pacific took the Best Business Class prize, Thai Airways got Best Economy Class, while Best In-Flight Entertainment went to Emirates.
Virgin Australia won the Best Cabin Crew prize for its outstanding staff.
Prizes in the “low cost airline sector” were given to U.S. carrier JetBlue, Norwegian in Europe and Kulula.com and Scoot in Asia.
Lan Chile, Etihad and EVA Air were named for excellence in long haul travel.
As yet, there are no awards for airlines flying to Middle Earth.
AirlineRatings.com’s top 10 airlines for 2015
1. Air New Zealand;
3. Cathay Pacific
6. Singapore Airlines
7. EVA Air
9. All Nippon Airways
10. British Airways