TheDesignAir is pleased to announce the 2018 Award winners as voted for by our esteemed judging panel and our readers. This year has seen a wave of improvements around the world in the field of passenger experience. From impressive new business class cabins to swathes of new airline lounges, no stone has been left unturned in the bid to win over passengers. We’ve waded through the advancements down to the smallest details found in tableware and amenity kits to discover the best of the best.

This year – just like every year since we started the awards in 2012 – we are proud to celebrate the very best developments in design and product within the industry. We would like to thank everyone for their input in these awards, and especially the airlines for continuing to advance the experience, putting their most valuable commodity first – the passenger.

Judges’ Choice Awards

Winner – Best New Uniform 2018
Turkish Airlines


Turkish Airlines has taken the crown this year with a bold new look for its crew. The carrier might have grand ambitions in 2019 – with a new passenger experience in its New Istanbul hub, a new business class product and new aircraft joining the fleet – but the uniform is the first branded element to usher in this new era for the carrier. It has set the scene and showcases the airline‘s updated brand image. Clean lines, elegant silhouettes and a bold fabric pattern helps the airline stand out both onboard and in airport and is bound to turn a few heads. 

Winner – Best New Livery 2018
Air Tahiti Nui


Air Tahiti Nui is certainly not the largest carrier in the sky, but its new livery punches well above its weight. Air Tahiti Nui’s latest Boeing 787 livery by Teague is the embodiment of a design that reflects the roots and culture of the airline’s origins. With a bright, colourful design and iconic ornate pattern filled with symbolism, Air Tahiti Nui’s 787s will certainly capture the imagination of travellers across the globe, acting as an ambassador for Tahiti in all the international ports the aircraft will fly to. In an increasing sea of minimalist, paired back liveries, Air Tahiti’s new brand image, created by Futurebrand flies in the face of ordinary and challenges passengers expectations from the onset.

Winner – Best New Lounge 2018
Oman Air, Muscat Lounge


Oman Air has long been on our radar as a leading carrier in the Middle East. With a new focus on hard product, the airline has reaffirmed its position as a design-led airline with a focus on the passenger experience. One of these recently updated elements is the new Muscat lounge. A beautifully ornate and culturally sensitive approach to the lounge has created moments of delight and excitement. The intricate attention to detail is outstanding, truly representing Oman‘s rich and diverse culture while also creating an opulent space to relax between flights. It’s a truly outstanding addition to the new terminal, and while up against stiff competition this year, it stood out as a refreshing approach to lounge design with a fanatic delivery on the carrier’s brand image.

Winner – Best New First Class 2018
Oman Air, 787 Fleet


Oman Air also has won our best new First Class award for their new 787 First Class Suites. These are beautifully styled, using a refined design palette that eludes to luxury without the ostentatious flourishes sometimes found in this cabin class. A quieter, contemporary approach to the suites puts the passenger first, and has colours and materials that are truly residential in feel. With clean crisp lines, textured finishes and intricate detailing, the seats are not only beautifully executed, but with the technological upgrades, fully enclosed concept and excellent Oman Air service, this First Class product is hard to beat this year.

Winner – Best New Business Class 2018
Singapore Airlines, 787 Fleet


The first of three awards for the carrier this year, Singapore Airlines takes best new Business Class with its 787-10 product. While the carrier has rolled out this product on its regional fleet, the product is of an international standard. One of the only carrier’s to actively place fully flat-beds on shorter to medium-haul flights, the airline has invested heavily in to a hard product that matches the synonymous service that has earned Singapore Airlines its well deserved reputation. Following on from a design palette across the airlines’ recent fleet additions, this new business class product offers a real consistency for passengers while providing them all the creature comforts they could hope for.

Winner – Best New Premium Economy 2018
Air France, A330 Fleet


Air France may not have introduced a totally new product to its A330 cabins, but the airline has not only brought consistency across its fleet, but invested in upgrading the product to match customer feedback. The seat now offers more storage, and trim and finish upgrades include a beautiful new patterned seat fabric. The softer seat cushions and wider leather armrests have also been redesigned, all partnered with changes and upgrades to the soft product offering. All these tweaks help inject a joie de vivre into the cabin, something the airline is working hard at bringing back to its brand.

Winner – Most Improved Brand 2018
Gulf Air


Gulf Air is proudly awarded the most improved brand this year. The airline has taken a quantum leap in its product offering in 2019. With a new brand image, new aircraft and a huge step forward in a business class product the airline has shown that the carrier is still an airline to be reckoned with. While the Middle East offers some of the world’s best passenger experiences, Gulf Air has risen to the challenge creating a contemporary, polished brand that celebrates its roots. It’s not just hard product and branding though, these developments have had a lasting impact on the crew that work for the carrier, instilling a new sense of pride, which enhances the passenger experience from all sides.

Readers’ Choice Awards

Winner – Best Design Airline Europe 2018
Air France


This year Air France has taken the European crown in the readers choice awards. With so many developments to the passenger experience this year including new amenity kits, menus and soft finishes, the airline has continued to evolve and expand its design ethos across multiple departments including the new lounge in CDG that reflects the airline’s desire to reflect contemporary trends in the hospitality industry. Seen as a truly French company, the airline continues to encapsulate the je ne sais quoi that international travellers have come to love from the brand.

Winner – Best Design Airline North America 2018


Delta, who took the title last year, continues to hold its own in North America. The airline who really has created a strong vision for their brand image, delivering a range of touch-points – including the Impressive Delta One Suite, upgraded 777s and new A220s – that reaffirms its position as a leading design airline around the globe. However, with a continued investment in the passenger experience, across all classes – including economy –  the airline has taken a design-centric approach which has kept the airline ahead of the competition, in an increasingly competitive region. Delta certainly deserves this award in 2018

Winner – Best Design Airline South America 2018


LATAM who only a couple of years ago successfully combined two airline brands, has now looked to improve the passenger experience, replacing ageing products with leading hard products that position it as a truly global player. With a range of residential-style lounges, new 777 cabins, a strong visual identity and new inflight catering options, passenger perception is that of a design-led carrier with a truly international appeal.

Winner – Best Design Airline Middle East 2018
Qatar Airways


With its addition of Qatar Airways QSuite has elevated the Business Class landscape. The airline has always positioned itself as a premium carrier, but this latest addition to the product set has leapfrogged them over some of their international competitors. The airline has continued to not only invest in their route expansion, but also their customer experience. There is little surprise that the airline was awarded the Best Design airline in the Middle East, although with the likes of Gulf Air and Oman Air also winning awards this year, competition couldn’t be more fierce. 

Winner – Best Design Airline Africa 2018
South African Airways


A new category this year, but it is important to celebrate the great strides that the African continent is bringing to aviation. It’s little surprise that South African Airways was awarded the crown this year. With swathes of improvements over the past few years, with perfectly branded aircraft celebrating their cultural roots, the passenger experience couldn’t be further from where the carrier was a few years ago. With modern cabins, delightful design touches and a constantly upgraded fleet, South African Airways deserves the award for Best Design Airline in Africa this year.

Winner – Best Design Airline Australasia 2018
Singapore Airlines


There is good reason why Singapore Airlines received the title of Best Design Airline Australasia 2018. Showcasing that their passenger experience goes much further than the iconic ‘Singapore Girl’, the airline has invested heavily in to a world-leading hard product with the addition of brand new aircraft and upgrades of their A380s. The airline puts the passenger first in every cabin with a range of passenger comforts including large monocoque seats in business class with increased passenger storage or premium economy seats with ample seat pitch and luxury service elements such as Book the Cook. Carriers in the region will have to work hard to beat the carrier as it continues to invest in its product.

Winner – Best Design Airline 2018
Singapore Airlines


Singapore Airlines has not only won the Australasia title, but was also voted by TheDesignAir’s team to be the world’s best Design Airline 2018. With innovative industry leading concepts, such as the Long Range A350 featuring just Business Class and Premium Economy, new 787-10 regional business class products and luxurious A380 First Class suites, the carrier has been meticulous in its quest to enhance the airline passenger experience. Congratulations Singapore Airlines.

Posted by:Jonny Clark

3 replies on “Announcing TheDesignAir Awards 2018 Winners

  1. Regarding the “Winner – Best New Premium Economy 2018 Air France, A330 Fleet”, I can’t understand how Air France can make such positive changes to the approximately 15 A330’s in their fleet, while leaving their 70-or-so 777’s with those god-awful, non-reclining seats with the forward-sliding bottom cushion.

  2. On the Air France Premium Economy product, they might have improved the esthetic of the seat, but most important it the comfort of the seat. Did they improve the padding? What about the amenities that comes with it. As long as those are not improved, no matter how nice it is to the eyes, it is still one of the worst product out there as a Premium product.

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