Running from the shimmering beaches of the Portuguese Algarve, all the way through the bustling resort towns of the Costa del Sol and the Sierra Nevada hills, past the sun-kissed regions of the Italian Boot and the glistening isles of Greece, to the warm coasts of the eastern Mediterranean and into Turkey where West merges with East, Southern Europe has long stood as one of the most popular holidaying areas on the planet—and it's easy to see why.
To help travelers looking to explore the wealth of destinations that exists within the region's boundaries, the folk over on Hopper's expert flight team thought it would be a good idea to lay out the results of the Southern European category from Skytrax's acclaimed airline awards for all to see.
This humble regional carrier has been carting sun-seekers and city lovers between the Mediterranean coast of southern Spain, the nation's bustling capital at the heart of the country and a wealth of other towns up and down the Iberian Peninsula since 1994. Today, it's risen to become one of the highest rated airlines the area has to offer, touting a fleet of cozy, narrow-body Bombardiers, two distinct cabin classes and bespoke charter services tailored to individual customer needs.
2014 signaled some seriously big changes in the board room of national flag carrier, Alitalia, bringing all the expertise of award-winning Middle Eastern flier Etihad Airways to the table in a bid to turn around the company's flailing income sheets. However, it looks as though things are already in order in terms of customer satisfaction, because last year Skytrax participants voted this one into a very respectable fourth place out of all the Southern European airlines criss-crossing the skies. Not bad, not bad at all!
Now operating as part of the third-largest commercial aviation conglomerate on the planet, the International Airlines Group (which also contains UK flag carrier British Airways), Iberia are one of the undisputed backbones of the Southern European region when it comes to flying. They currently offer passengers more than 100 destinations across the globe, with connections to sun-kissed Cuba, Budapest and Florence some of the planned additions for 2015. Oh, and just check out that in-flight menu of mouth-watering Spanish tapas!
A traveler's gateway to the shimmering islands of the Ionian Sea, the bustling party strips of Crete and Zante and the historic spots of Thessaloniki, Aegean Airlines seem to be weathering the financial storm of their host nation pretty darn well. In fact, a recent buyout of their national compadre, Olympic Air, has sealed almost 90% of the domestic market for Aegean, which is good news for all those passengers who voted the carrier into an illustrious second place on this list last year.
Touting some of the cheapest transatlantic connections going, and a cabin that's virtually bursting at the windows with Skytrax accolades for things like regional excellence and business class catering, it's easy to see how Turkish Airlines claimed the number one spot amongst all the carriers of Southern Europe last year. Just check out that taste-bud-tingling array of Mediterranean mezze, aromatic coffees and sweet Turkish deserts, those lay-flat business class beds, and those touch-screen Planet entertainment systems—you won't be disappointed!