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Greatest Airline Of All Time?  
User currently offlineMattNZ From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 150 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 3476 times:

What do you think is the greatest airline of all time?
Singapore Airlines? United Airlines? Pan Am? British?

50 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineGKirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 25347 posts, RR: 54
Reply 1, posted (15 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 3401 times:

In this order,
2-Pan Am

When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineSlawko From Canada, joined May 1999, 3804 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (15 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 3388 times:


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"Clive Beddoe says he favours competition, but his actions do not support that idea." Robert Milton - CEO Air Canada
User currently offlineRIX From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1895 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (15 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 3378 times:

GKirk, I would agree with you if by BA you mean its predecessors too (first of all BOAC and BEA).

User currently offlinePVDFlier From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 59 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (15 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 3368 times:

This should be so easy. It's Piedmont. Hands down. No contest. Piedmont was the greatest for so many reasons.

User currently offlineKonaB777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (15 years 6 months 7 hours ago) and read 3356 times:

None other than the flying U:

United Airlines

User currently offlineSingapore_Air From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 13756 posts, RR: 18
Reply 6, posted (15 years 6 months 7 hours ago) and read 3345 times:

Singapore Airlines although we did have a poll on this pbefore and Delta! came on top. God knows how?!

Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
User currently offlineBrissie_lions From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (15 years 6 months 7 hours ago) and read 3344 times:


What are you going to base the "Greatest of all Time" on?

You have only three airlines which have the right to be called the greatest....these being KLM, QANTAS and Pan Am....this is due to the innovations and firsts which these airlines brought about during their decades of operations, although I would scrub Pan Am from the list because they are no longer.

Any poll which was done (where I don't know) and Delta came out on top, would have been due to the fact that this forum is made up of a lot of Americans and also because people would based it on "what my favourite airline" or "what airline have I flown on and liked".

There is a huge difference between being great and liked.

See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.

User currently offlineKUGN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 615 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (15 years 6 months 7 hours ago) and read 3328 times:

BOAC in many respects.

Other 'great old' ones:

- Quantas
- Lufthansa
- Pan Am

- Air Inter

Low Fare that changed the paradigms of air travel:
- People Express
- Ryan Air
- Southwest

US based:
- National
- Eastern

Look on these in future:
- Delta
- AA
- JetBlue
- Midway & Midwest Express

User currently offlineKUGN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 615 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (15 years 6 months 7 hours ago) and read 3318 times:

Under charters, insteat of BAE I meant their Airtours.

User currently offlineTWFirst From Vatican City, joined Apr 2000, 6346 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (15 years 6 months 6 hours ago) and read 3315 times:

>>this is due to the innovations and firsts which these airlines brought about during their decades of operations<<

If this is the criteria that is going to be used to judge the "greatest airline of all time," then TWA must be considered:

October 25, 1930
TWA inaugurates coast-to-coast all-air service. The cross-country journey takes 36 hours, including an overnight stop in Kansas City.

August 6, 1931
TWA inaugurates the first air cargo service in the U.S. with a shipment of livestock from St. Louis to Newark.

September 20, 1932
TWA and Douglas Aircraft sign a contract for development of a revolutionary new all-metal twin-engine airliner, dubbed the Douglas Commercial Model 1 (DC-1).

December, 1933
The only Douglas DC-1 ever built is delivered to TWA.

May 18, 1934
The Douglas DC-2, the production version of the DC-1 and forerunner of the DC-3, enters commercial service on TWA's Columbus-Pittsburgh-Newark route.

June 1, 1937
Sleeper berths are introduced in TWA service

February 5, 1946
TWA begins transatlantic service with the Lockheed Constellation flying the New York-Gander-Shannon-Paris route

January 30, 1947
Inauguration of transatlantic all-cargo service. This was the first regularly scheduled direct all-cargo service ever operated over the North Atlantic

October 1, 1948
Inauguration of all-sleeper luxury service from New York to Paris, known as the "Paris Sky Chief," and from Paris to New York, known as the "New York Sky Chief."

October 19, 1953
TWA begins the first non-stop eastbound scheduled transcontinental service with Super Constellations. The flight from Los Angeles to New York took 8 hours. Because of prevailing head winds, westbound transcontinental service continued to stop in Chicago to refuel.

January 3, 1957
TWA is the first airline to offer passengers freshly-brewed coffee in flight.

September 29, 1957
TWA launches polar route service from Los Angeles to London with the 1649A Constellation.

March 20, 1959
TWA initiates jet service from San Francisco to New York, using the Boeing 707-131.

July 19, 1961
TWA introduces in-flight motion pictures. The first feature: "By Love Possessed", starring Lana Turner.

October 1, 1962
TWA inaugurates the fully automated, Doppler radar system of navigation on scheduled transatlantic flights. The New York to London flight was the first transatlantic flight (commercial or military) ever operated without a professional navigator aboard.

June 1, 1964
TWA inaugurates Boeing 727 service.

April 6, 1967
The last TWA Constellations is retired from passenger service. TWA becomes the first U.S. airline to go all-jet.

August 1, 1969
TWA inaugurates transpacific and round-the-world service.

February 25, 1970
TWA inaugurates Boeing 747 scheduled service nonstop from Los Angeles to New York. TWA is the first airline to offer 747 service in the U.S.

July 1, 1970
TWA becomes the first airline to offer no-smoking sections aboard every aircraft in its fleet.

November 1, 1970
TWA introduces new Business Class Ambassador Service providing a "whole new way to fly," and featuring "twin seat" accommodations on transcontinental routes

June 25, 1972
TWA inaugurates Lockheed 1011 service. The first flight, operating from St. Louis to Los Angeles, is flown on autopilot from takeoff to landing.

TWA launches the first transatlantic service with the Boeing 767 wide-body, the industry's first ETOPS (extended-range twin-engine operations) service.

December 21, 1999
TWA and Boeing close out a 67-year era of partnership as the airline takes delivery of the last twin-engine transport to bear the Douglas name, an MD-83 christened "Spirit of Long Beach." TWA placed the initial order for a Douglas twin – the DC-1, built to order for TWA – in 1932.

An unexamined life isn't worth living.
User currently offlineWestjet#1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (15 years 6 months 5 hours ago) and read 3301 times:

although TWA has had great acomplishments.....i would still be putting my money on KLM first and BA second...KLM has been around for a very very long time...3 quarters of a century at least...

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User currently offlineFlyBoeing From United States of America, joined May 2000, 866 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (15 years 6 months 5 hours ago) and read 3299 times:

WOW!!! I did not know all that about TWA! Kudos to a great carrier! That's a pioneering company. Too bad they've been getting their butt kicked by Icahn/Karabu, so I hear.

But how did an airline survive so long without fresh-brewed coffee? I mean, God, there were 27 years when they existed when pax had to either drink stale nasty coffee or do without. This is on flights that were a lot longer than they used to be.

User currently offlineMAC100 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 260 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (15 years 6 months 5 hours ago) and read 3284 times:

Pan Am! I miss those 747 "Clippers" ...

User currently offlineRedraider From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 531 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (15 years 6 months ago) and read 3255 times:

I vote for AA. AA has revolutionized the modern airline with FF programs and CRS systems as well as airport lounges.

My wife can't wrestle, but you should see her box.
User currently offlineG-KIRAN From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2000, 736 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (15 years 6 months ago) and read 3251 times:

In my opinion

BA has the worlds largest international passenger network.1st to fly the comet,Concorde(i think),1st euro airline to fly the jumbo and the 777.Largest operator of the 737,757,767,777 in europe.2nd largest 747 fleet in the world.The founder of the most innovative airline livery of all time,the world tails even though some of the designs suck!Its also a 2 time winner of the airline of the year award by Air transport world.

American airlines opened the 1st lounge for business/1st class passengers in 1939.It launched the worlds 1st frequent flyer program 15 years ago.

KLM and QANTAS have been around for over 80 years.QANTAS have not had a major crash.KLM formed a major alliance with Northwest which in my opinion was the start of major airline alliances such as star and oneworld.

PanAm needs no explaining.

TWA is another pioneer like PanAM.Check out the July 2000 issue of Airways and you will see why its in my list.

Southwest were the pioneers of lowcost/no-frills air travel and they have never made a loss while other majors are in the red.

United operate the worlds only round the world flight.UA1 and UA2 linking LHR,JFK,LAX,HKG,DEL(delhi).

Emirates came from nowhere to take home countless awards for excellent service.They were also the 1st airline to introduce PTVs in economy class way back in 1992.

User currently offlineAirman99o From Canada, joined Aug 1999, 981 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (15 years 6 months ago) and read 3249 times:

Hmmm I have to agree about BOAC/BEA forming British Airways. Seeing that Boac first introduced the jet passenger aircraft. but also the huge PAN AM!! that is what flying used to be. to bad she is gone. I think I am going to be totally ripped apart for saying this but AeroFlot as well. they were the first to introduce the SST. but it was not economic. Was the worlds largest airline for many years. That is all that comes to mind at this point.

Just my thoughts

Safety is Everyones Responsibility.
User currently offlineKHI747 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 1621 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3236 times:

I really like the analysis by G-KIRAN, i think the person makes good sense. Greatest airlines of all time is an interesting topic but i dont think it is all that difficult. The 2nd or 3rd spot could be discussed but i dont think there is any doubt that BA(BOAC) is the undisputed greatest airline of all time. They have linked the WORLD with style for as long as memory goes. They are and have been a market leader and at the same time been profitable. Their hub city,london(LHR and LGW) is and has been quite literally the most critical pivotal point for the aviation world. They might not be as big as some US carriers but believe me no name in the history of airlines is as well known as British Airways.
PANAM is sadly with us no more but it could be a strong contender for 2nd or 3rd spot. They were the one truly international US airline. No current US carrier has a truly international network anything like BA or Lh or KL, rather they are restricted to certain regions.
Other names names which i think deserve to be mentioned as one of the all time greats would be KLM,LUFTHANSA,QANTAS,AEROFLOT( during USSR) and UNITED.
Singapore Airlines,Cathay pacific,Emirates are truly present day examples of excellence and success but they just need a few more decades of sucess and leadership to be mentioned as ALL TIME GREATS.

User currently offlineGKirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 25347 posts, RR: 54
Reply 18, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3222 times:

Yeah, I do mean that, especially when they first joined together as BA.

When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineWakeVortix From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3222 times:

1. British Airways
3. Lufthansa

User currently offlineGeorgexiro From Australia, joined Nov 2000, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3220 times:


User currently offlineN2111J From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 151 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3202 times:

The one and only Mohawk Airlines, by far!

User currently offlineRIX From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1895 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3189 times:

Aeroflot introduced SST on cargo line. AF and BA were first with passenger service, Aeroflot joined them 21 month later. But, of course, since Aeroflot was one of only three airlines with SST service (I don't count Singapore and Braniff, they didn't have "their own" SST), it can be mentioned here too - as well as because once it was the largest airline, and even more than airline.

More about BA: wasn't BEA the first to introduce turboprop service (Viscount)? Then BA is "2.5 of 3" in firsts (turboprop, jet, SST).

User currently offlineKonaB777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3188 times:

Also, British Airways & Air France's first Concorde flights were on the same day, & departed at the same time.

User currently offlineEg777er From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 1844 posts, RR: 13
Reply 24, posted (15 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3189 times:

It's got to be this airline:

Imperial Airways/BOAC/BEA/British Airways.

The world's first scheduled international air service.

The world's first subsonic jet service - the Comet.

The world's first transatlantic jet service.

The world's first fully automatic landing - the Trident.

The world's first supersonic scheduled landing - BA and AF took off at the same time - but BA landed first!

One of only two airlines to offer scheduled supersonic air services.

The worlds first flat beds in First Class.

The worlds first flat beds in Business Class.

The complete history - from www.britishairways.com:

British Airways can trace its origins back to the birth of civil aviation, the pioneering days following World War I. On 25 August 1919, its forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world's first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris. That initial flight, operated by a single-engined de Havilland DH4A biplane taking off from Hounslow Heath, near its successor company's current Heathrow base, carried a single passenger and cargo that included newspapers, Devonshire cream and grouse. It took two and a half hours to reach Le Bourget. Shortly afterwards, two more British companies started services to Paris, and to Brussels - Instone, the shipping group, and Handley Page, the aircraft manufacturer. These pioneer companies struggled against severe difficulties. Passengers were few, fares high, and air travel seldom less than an adventure. One pilot took two days for the two-hour flight to Paris, making 33 forced landings along the way. One by one, the fledgling companies ceased operations, undercut by heavily subsidised French and Dutch competitors.

In 1924, Britain's four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T), and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited, merged to form Imperial Airways Limited. By 1925, Imperial Airways was providing services to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich. Operating from the new London airport at Croydon, services were introduced during the 1920s and 1930s to Egypt, the Arabian Gulf, India, South Africa, Singapore and West Africa. In co-operation with Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which operated between Singapore and Australia, a service between the UK and Australia was established in 1935. Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights. In 1935, they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways' principal UK competitor on European routes, operating out of another new airport, Gatwick. Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

Post-war, BOAC continued to operate longhaul services, other than routes to South America. These were flown by British South American Airways (BSAA), which was merged back into BOAC in 1949. Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA). BOAC introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the west coast of the United States in 1957. BEA developed a domestic network to various points in the United Kingdom, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. From 1946 until 1960, BOAC and BEA were the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services - and they preserved Britain's pioneering role in the industry. The 1950s saw the world enter the passenger jet era - led by BOAC, with the Comet flying to Johannesburg in 1952, halving the previous flight time. Despite grounding the Comet fleet after two crashes in 1954, BOAC was still able to claim the distinction of operating the first jet transatlantic service in October 1958, with two Comets flying simultaneously from London and New York, days ahead of their American rivals. The next decade saw another world beater, when BEA's Trident aircraft made the first automatic landing on a scheduled service, heralding the era of all-weather operations. The birth of the mass package holiday business meant changes in the airline industry. BEA met this by establishing its own charter airline, BEA Airtours, which took off in 1970. This mantle was carried for the Group by Caledonian Airways until March 1995, when the company was sold.

Following the formation of the Air Transport Licensing Board in 1960, other British airlines began to operate competing scheduled services. Indeed, several of the smaller domestic airlines - including Cambrian Airways and BKS (later Northeast Airlines) - eventually passed into BEA's ownership. In 1967, the Government set up another study into the industry. It recommended a holding board to be responsible for the two main airlines, BOAC and BEA, with the establishment of a second force airline, brought about by unifying various independents. As a result, British Caledonian was born in 1970, when the original Caledonian Airways took over British United Airways. Two years later, the businesses of BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974. Although this merger was to lead initially to substantial financial losses and industrial strife, the new airline inherited its predecessors' pioneering path, launching the world's first supersonic passenger service, simultaneously with Air France, with Concorde in January 1976.

In July 1979, the Government announced its intention to sell shares in British Airways. The Civil Aviation Act 1980 was passed to enable this to happen. Lord King was appointed Chairman in 1981 and charged by the Secretary of State for Trade to take all necessary steps to restore the Group to profitability and prepare it for privatisation. With an overall deficit of £544 million declared for 1981-82, including special provisions to pay for an extensive "survival plan", which included staff cuts, suspension of unprofitable routes and disposal of surplus assets, the task of re-establishing the company as the world's leading airline began in April 1983 with the repositioning of the carrier as the World's Favourite Airline. In February 1987 British Airways was privatised. Over one million applications were received for shares in the airline, offered at 125 pence, making the flotation 11 times oversubscribed.

25 TurboTristar : At the time of it's peak, I think PAN AM was the greatest and most prestigous airline of all time. TurboTristar
26 TWA717_200 : While TWA is my favorite of those still operating (continuously), I vote for Pan Am (no hanging or dimpled chad here). Al Gore, concede. You fool.
27 Qantas 747 : QANTAS!!!!!!!!!!
28 Laserjet : First would have to be Pan Am, but closely followed by British Airways - from its Imperial Airways roots, TWA and QANTAS.
29 Post contains links and images 351stang : Without a doubt: Click for large versionPhoto © Vincent Gury
30 FaisZ : Singapore Airlines
31 G-KIRAN : Can you tell me why Singapore Airlines is the greatest airline of all time?
32 Nicolaki : Yes, I would like to know too. SIA is full of flaws regarding it's CRM, and a good percentage of it's pilot are unexperienced. I think that TWA or Pan
33 Tan flyr : Well, Just had to add my 2 cents worth here.. Overall global image/routes/contributions for the most years...Pan Am Second place( as one company)..TWA
34 RayChuang : I think historically, only three airlines qualify for "greatest all-time airline" distinction: 1. Pan Am 2. BOAC (the precursor to British Airways) 3.
35 RIX : Well, historically both Pan American and Imperial Airways/BOAC-BEA/BA are the greatest by different criteria (I prefer those for BA much more though).
36 Singapore_Air : Singapore Airlines are the best because they have regularly been voted as having the best-inflight service, entertainment, cabin crew etc..... If you
37 RIX : Exactly, just as I said before: it is one of the best airlines (or, OK, the best one) today, but still, it is something very different from being one
38 Nicolaki : Yes SIA have a great service and IFE. But I think security is what should comes first, before service. SIA is well known to have problems with it's cr
39 Nicolaki : Let me just correct something here. When I say that SIA pilot are careless i meant SOME are careless. Not all of them of course!
40 Airafrique : South African Air Afrique RAM (Royal Air Maroc) They have the best pilot and their planes do not crash
41 Whisperingiant : Greatest (still here): TWA - pioneers of air travel as we know it Imperial / BOAC - pioneers of great routes and great but flawed aeroplanes! Qantas -
42 Greggj : We can argue this forever, however, only one carrier has had the innovation, vision, and brand recognition of a truely great airline. Pan Am has meant
43 SAA-SAL : What about the worst :AA!!!!
44 B727-200 : I have to agree with many here. Pan Am would have to be the best of all time, but there are a couple close behind. This is my list and reasons: Pam Am
45 Tom2katie : Greatest to work for? Wien Alaska hands down! may they rest in peace
46 767ALLTHEWAY : That would be: 1) Delta Air Lines 2) American Airlines 3) United Airlines
47 KHI747 : I dont know if 767alltheway is trying to make a fool out of himself or not, but certainly he is doing a good job. I think you need a little more know
48 G-KIRAN : How can SIA be thr greatest of all time?Okay they introduced the Singapore Girl,dolby surround sound for passengers in 1st class,worlds 3rd largest 74
49 Beckaru : nuff said
50 Qantas 747 : Nicolaki: WHy do you have to be harsh on Singapore Airlines? They are not my favourite, but I think you have said enough They were extremely nice to m
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