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High Fliers

Published: 01/12/2016 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2018 | 2017 | 2016 » December 2016/January 2017 » Special Reports » Home » Features »

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Throughout 2016, business travelers have felt the seismic shifts shaking the travel landscape, as the trifecta of rising demand, technology and competition continually usher in a parade of new brands, products and services.  Against this backdrop of transformation, how does one judge what it means to be the best in the world of travel?  

For the experienced business traveler, the idea of ‘best’ is more than measuring incremental improvements – it’s a concept that means surpassing the rest of the field to offer a truly distinct travel experience.  Whether it’s a superior flight or a exceptional night, a top-notch venue or a luscious menu, what the readers of Business Traveler expect – regardless of the changing landscape – are experiences that are nothing short of the superlative.

From new classes of airline service to robot butlers, whatever direction the travel industry takes, the choices you, our readers, make – in your everyday travels and in your votes for the Best in Business Travel Awards – have always put you out in front of these changes.  As a result, the industry looks to you as a bellwether for what’s working, what’s meaningful, what’s truly best in the competitive world of business travel.

Your Voice, Your Choice 

This year, as it has been since the Best in Business Travel Awards were instituted in 1988, the nominees for these awards are determined by the votes of the readers of Business Traveler. No one from our staff had any part in pre-selecting companies or picking the recipients.  So these awards truly reflect our readers’ choices.

For the 2016 awards, Business Traveler readers selected 33 different travel providers in 42 categories, including the best airlines, hotel companies and car rental, both by regions and worldwide, plus such categories as airports, loyalty programs and the most exciting meetings and events cities.  Among the recipients are five winners who are new in their respective categories.

Now celebrating 28 years, the Best in Business Travel Awards recognize those products and services that represent the superlative in the industry – the best from different regions of the world, different types of travel providers, different classes of service. Insights garnered from you, our Business Traveler readers, and your own first-hand experiences.

This year we’ve broken the awards out into seven groups: Best Airlines by Region, Best Air Travel Experience, Best Hotel Experience, Best Hotel by Region, Best Loyalty Programs, Best Connections on the Ground and the Best in Global Travel.  

Best in Global Travel

The Best in Global Travel group includes 10 winners whom voters chose as the airlines and alliances which deliver the world’s best air experiences, either by class of service – from economy to first – or by different contributions to the air travel value chain – everything from Best Overall Customer Service to Best Airline Cuisine.  

Citing such factors as levels of service, route structures, convenience and comfort, readers voted these industry leaders to be the best worldwide at what they do.

Best Airlines by Region

These award winners represent top value and superlative service in specific geographic regions of the world.  The carriers who have been voted the winners in this group come from seven major global regions:  North America, South America/Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. 

This group also includes the top airline for North American Travel, as well as the North American carrier judged best for international travel. 

Best Air Travel Experience

This group of awards put the focus on the best in business class, based on the expectations of high-frequency, high value business travelers, all the way from the initial contact with the airline to arrival at the final destination.  

Readers took into consideration such factors as the quality of groundside support, inflight service, cuisine, amenities, and the aesthetics of seating comfort and space. The categories are broken out by regions and also include top long-haul transoceanic routes and the best overall experience in North America.  

Best Loyalty Programs

It pays to be loyal, and our readers understand that their loyalty to their favorite travel brands ought to garner the most desirable premiums and innovative experiences.  The winners in this group have consistently offered programs with more flexibility, greater accessibility and, most important, truly rewarding rewards to attract and keep faithful followers.  

Best Hotel Experience

In the rapidly diversifying world of hospitality brands, styles and business models, for the business traveler, the key to a successful trip still comes down to choosing the right hotel to meet the trip’s objectives. This group of hotel awards recognizes superior service, comfort and attention to the individual guest that is the hallmark of great hospitality across the planet.

This group encompasses the variety of hotel offerings; luxury properties, chains with a business focus and boutique hotels.  But even with all the options, these award winners represent our readers’ picks for the business traveler’s best hospitality value.  

Best Hotels by Region

To be truly appealing to the business traveler, a hotel should be a product of its own culture and location.  Hotel chains in five regions – North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America – are honored in this group. These winners are recognized by our readers as consistently meeting the needs of business travelers, and more than that, delivering an experience that reflects the sense of place in their own geographic regions. 

Best Connections on the Ground

The point of business travel isn’t just travel – it means business. So our readers understand that to take advantage of all the opportunities that each trip presents, you need to be in the right place at the right time.  Business travelers look for those connecting points that work well, like airports with the best in convenience, technology and comfort, and all the amenities like super duty-free shopping.  

After the airport, reaching your final destination is a journey that frequently begins with a rental car.  And our award winners in this group, both in North America and around the world, are experts at making that connection for travelers a seamless one. 

The most important connection for the business traveler is the one that’s the ultimate aim of the travel – meeting with others.  And often those meetings take place at conferences and events.  Whether at an international convention or closer to home in North America, business travelers want superlative experiences.  So it’s no surprise that the winners of these categories are the cities that have consistently offered the most exciting and memorable opportunities to connect.  


Best in Global Travel

Best Overall Airline in the World

Singapore Airlines


Best Airline in the World for International Travel

Etihad Airways


Best Airline Alliance



Best First Class Service in the World

Etihad Airways


Best Business Class Service in the World

Qatar Airways


Best Premium Economy Class in the World

Virgin Atlantic


Best Economy Class Service in the World

Singapore Airlines


Best Airline Cuisine in Business Class

Turkish Airlines


Best Overall Inflight Experience in the World

Asiana Airlines


Airline with Best Overall Customer Service

Asiana Airlines

Best Airlines By Region

Best North American Airline for International Travel

Air Canada


Best Airline for North American Travel



Best Airline in South/Latin America



Best Airline in Western Europe

British Airways


Best Airline in Eastern Europe

Turkish Airlines 


Best Airline in Africa

South African Airways


Best Airline in the Middle East

Qatar Airways


Best Airline in Asia

China Southern


Best Air Travel Experience

Best North American Airline for Business Class Service

Delta Air Lines


Best North American Airline for Inflight Experience

Air Canada

Best Airlines for Trans-Atlantic Service



Best Airline for Trans-Pacific Service

Cathay Pacific


Best Business Class to South/Latin America



Best Business Class to the Middle East

Etihad Airways


Best Business Class to Africa

South African Airways


Best Business Class to Asia

Singapore Airlines


Best Business Class to Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific



Best Loyalty Program

Best Frequent Flier Program

Delta Sky Miles


Best Hotel Loyalty Program

Marriott Rewards


Best Hotel Experience

Best Business Hotel Chain in the World

Hilton Hotels & Resorts


Best Luxury Hotel Chain



Best Boutique Hotel Chain

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Best Hotels By Region

Best Business Hotel Chain in North America



Best Business Hotel Chain in South/Latin America

Starwood Hotels & Resorts


Best Business Hotel Chain in Europe

Hilton Hotels & Resorts


Best Business Hotel Chain in the Middle East

Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts


Best Business Hotel Chain in Asia

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts


Best Connections on the Ground

Best Airport in the World

Singapore Changi Airport


Airport With Best Duty-Free Shopping

Incheon International Airport


Best Car Rental Company in North America

National Car Rental


Best Car Rental Company in the World



Best International Business Meetings Destination



Best North America Business Meetings Destination

Las Vegas  

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