There are many features that shape our experience of flying: the efficiency of checking-in, the helpfulness of ground staff, the quality of the food and the in-flight entertainment, the comfort and cleanliness of the craft itself. But perhaps nothing makes a bigger difference than the warmth and friendliness of the cabin crew that looks after us as we soar above oceans, clouds and continents. Every year, UK-based consultancy Skytrax gathers customer feedback on airline travel in order to distribute awards across a wide range of categories, and among the most sought-after is the award for best airline cabin staff. Here is Skytrax's rundown of the top five in 2014, as voted for by passengers themselves.
Malaysia Airlines hit the headlines for tragic reasons in 2014, as one plane disappeared in the remote Indian Ocean and another was shot down over Ukraine. In the hysteria following these tragedies, it was reported around the world that over 500 cabin crew had resigned from their jobs. The truth of this was disputed by the airline's senior management, who would understandably be disappointed to lose members of staff that have served them so well. The airline has won Skytrax's Best Cabin Staff award nine times since 2001, and their skills are emphasized in the airplane's slogan itself: "More than just an airline code. MH is Malaysian hospitality."
Based in Seoul, South Korea, Asiana has grown into one of the world's most impressive airlines since its launch in 2008, ranking at number eight in Skytrax's 2014 global rundown. While strong across a number of areas including in-flight entertainment and economy class, it is in the quality of its cabin crew that the carrier really excels: as well as being placed fourth this year, they won the award in 2011 and came second in both 2012 and 2013.
Singapore Airlines are undoubtedly among the best in the business overall, ranking number three in Skytrax's 2014 rundown of the world's best airlines and scoring the same position in the consultancy's ranking for cabin staff. Indeed, Singapore Airlines' cabin crew have become an internationally recognized brand through the image of the Singapore Girl, clad in a distinctive Sarong Kebaya uniform. While the quality of their work is likely to remain as strong as ever, however, the prominence of the Singapore Girl is probably going to diminish over the coming years. It has come in for criticism for idealizing the role of women in serving others, and the airline's marketing has begun to focus more on its modern fleet and cutting-edge technology.
As well as winning the main award in 2014, Cathay Pacific have been crowned the world's best airline on three previous occasions — more than any other carrier. And this strength is reflected in the quality of its cabin crew, who won the best staff award last year. They just miss out on doing so again this year, coming a close second behind....
Garuda Indonesia have enjoyed a phoenix-like renaissance since hitting a financial and operational nadir in the late '90s and early 2000s. The national airline of Indonesia equaled their 2013 performance, which was the first time they'd appeared in the top ten, by taking the number eight position in Skytrax's overall rankings.Their success was crowned by winning the accolade for the world's best cabin crew, an honor that anyone who has flown with them will agree is richly deserved.