A full service airline typically offers passengers in flight entertainment,checked baggage, meals, beverages and comforts such as blankets and pillows in the ticket price. The seats generally have more recline than a low cost carrier as well as more leg room. Full service airlines offer passengers the choice of economy or business class travel and on some flights premium economy and first class. The airlines in this category will transfer baggage between flights and to alliance partners of which most full service carriers are a part (SkyTeam, oneworld, Star Alliance). Full service airlines often have a long history and are flag carriers for their countries of origin.
Low cost and regional airlines cannot be compared with full service airlines as they offer an entirely different product on typically far shorter routes where the frills do not matter as much. Our rating system for full service airlines reflects the current market offering to passengers and we have adopted what has become a travel industry standard of seven stars to reflect the very best in full service airline offerings. Low cost and regional airlines simply cannot offer a seven-star budget product, because seven stars denotes excellence. Therefore you will notice we have adopted a simple easy to follow five-star system which reflects the most important features to passengers for regional and low cost carriers.
The 7 star assessment criteria for full service airlines is as follows:
1 star if 30 inch and greater across the airlines fleet in economy class. No star if less than 30 inch across the fleet.
1/2 star if mixed seat pitch across fleet (some aircraft 30 inch and greater, others less than 30 inch).
In Flight Entertainment
1 star if Personal Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD) across the fleet in all classes of travel. No star if no Audio/Video On Demand, shared cabin screens only or nothing at all.
1/2 star if mixed across airlines fleet (some of the fleet have AVOD some do not).
NOTE: If an airline has Audio/Video On Demand on all flights except for short routes of 2 hours or less they are still eligible for a full star.
1 star if comprehensive information. No star if no English or incomplete information.
1/2 star if inconsistent information.
1 star if flat beds in business class on long haul routes. No star if no beds.
1/2 star if angled beds or a mixture of angled and flat beds across the fleet.
NOTE: For airlines that do not operate long haul routes and therefore do not need beds but have business class in a 2-2 seating configuration in single aisle aircraft they are awarded 1 star; seating configuration in 3-3 with the middle seat left free awards the airline a 1/2 star; if there is not enough information to be sure a 1/2 star is awarded.
1 star if provision of full meal in economy. No star if a passenger has to pay for meals and alcoholic beverages.
1/2 star if passengers have to pay for meals or if passengers have to pay for alcohol on international routes or if the airline does not offer alcoholic beverages at all regardless of religious beliefs.
NOTE: Provision of alcohol on domestic and/or short haul routes has not been rated as airlines have complex rules based around flight time, route and time of day.
Blankets and pillows
1 star if provided by airline or if passengers have to pay for blankets on domestic and/or short haul routes but they are available. No star if not provided or unavailable.
1/2 star if blankets need to be paid for on medium and long haul routes.
Editors draw on their collective 150 years plus experience to evaluate airlines based on personal experience and/or extensive industry knowledge to award the final star.