TheDesignAir is thrilled to announce the 2019 award winners as voted for by our esteemed judging panel and our readers. Year after year, we see more improvements and enhancements across the passenger experience, from narrow to wide bodies to lounges and airports around the globe. It’s another year of innovative cabins and yet again, acres of new airline lounges. We’ve spent hours wading through the biggest advancements down to the smallest details to discover and celebrate this year’s ‘best of the best’.
Since we started our Awards back in 2012 – we have been proud to celebrate these developments in design, brand and product within the industry. We would like to thank everyone for their input in these awards, including our readers, our judges and especially the airlines for tirelessly investing in the passenger experience – putting their most valuable commodity first – the passenger.
Judges’ Choice Awards
Winner – Best new Uniform 2019
STARLUX is a new entrant to the airline industry but certainly wants to make a statement with its exciting seating, product and uniforms. STARLUX’s new threads manage to mix the future and the past with clear nods to Spacewear-utilitarian outfits amid high-couture fashion pieces. We love this contemporary, forward-thinking approach to the ground and flight uniforms, albeit with a surprising result. It sets the scene for how the airline wants to differentiate itself from its competitors in an already-crowded market, in which it launches early 2020.
Winner – Best new Lounge 2019
Swiss, Alpine Lounge, Zurich
We are thrilled to award Swiss with Best New Lounge 2019 for their new Alpine Lounge in Zurich. While the category was hotly contested, Swiss took a reserved balance of locally inspired design touches, with a calming modern space for travellers resonating with current passenger trends. It may not be the biggest to open, or have the most amenities, but the airline’s innovation in the lounge – using natural materials, a clear sustainable focus with zero single-use plastics and a focus on decreasing their environmental impact – was a huge positive in the decision process for the judges. We hope more lounges in 2020 across the industry follow suit.
Winner – Best new Livery 2019
SAS brought a new livery to the skies this year symbolising both progression and a respect for the carrier’s traditional roots. Instead of yet another traditional ‘Eurowhite’ scheme, SAS celebrated its brand image with an off-white livery, silver billboard titles and a strong identifiable blue tailfin and nacelles. We love the balance of metallic and grey and the military-style striped-flag that injects colour and represents the many cultures and countries the airline calls home. It will quickly become a timeless classic that we look forward to seeing in the skies for many years to come.
Winner – Best new Premium Economy 2019
Virgin Atlantic, A350
Virgin Atlantic’s A350 is one of the best launches as a whole in 2019. The design language, lighting and emphasis on comfort in all cabins makes it one of the best new planes in the skies. But our focus turns to the Virgin’s new ‘Premium’ cabin which takes an already industry-leading product and improves the passenger experience with new seats, better ergonomics and – thanks to the technology in the A350 – even more comfort. Paired with the world-famous Virgin Atlantic service, excellent food and drink, and little ‘surprise and delight’ moments, the carrier has once again secured its future as a leading carrier in this cabin class.
Winner – Best new Business Class 2019
The first of no-less-than-three awards this year, ANA’s new business class product – simply put – is phenomenal. It takes the learnings of previous Business Class seats and brings the best elements together to make a spacious, wide and private space. It’s no surprise ANA have dubbed it The Room. Inspired by modern, multifunctional Japanese living spaces, The Room offers huge 4K screens and a stunning residential feel to it, thanks to the warm finishes that Kengo Kuma and London-based Acumen have introduced including three different wood finishes inspired by modern Japanese homes – Rosewood, Light Japanese Ash and Dark Japanese Ash.
Winner – Best new First Class 2019
ANA, 777-300ER & A380
If ANA’s Business Class wasn’t enough, the airline has also introduced a brand new, striking First Class ‘Suite’ which has the largest TV screen in the skies, and unparalleled personal space. Once again Acumen and Kengo Kuma have brought Japanese sensibilities to 35,000ft with a contemporary design palette that nods to some of the latest award-winning interiors and architecture projects in Japan. Paired with ANA’s outstanding customer service, Kaiser cuisine and upgraded passenger comfort, there are very few First Class products that can even compare.
Winner – Most Improved Airline Brand 2019
ANA’s recent investment in both the ground and inflight products has paid dividends. From the inflight menus to the The Room and The Suite featuring on the retrofitted 777s, the premium cabins have never been more appealing, and with privacy, huge wide beds and large TV screens, they far outweigh their competitors in every regard. But even in premium economy and economy, care and attention has gone in to creating an environment that is culturally celebratory and creates moments of delight. Pairing this with ANA’s already superb service, the carrier, albeit smaller than its competitors, is a powerhouse of a brand, that well deserves its position as the most improved airline brand 2019.
Readers’ Choice Awards
Winner – Best Design Airline Europe 2019
Turkish Airlines has always been recognised for its industry-leading soft product including excellent dining, amenities and uniforms, but this year the carrier celebrated not only the launch of its new impressive home in Istanbul, but also the arrival of the new Dreamliner 787-9’s. Combined with its already-winning combination of passenger experience elements, Turkish has quickly cemented its roots as Europe’s leading Design Airline 2019. The design language throughout the passenger experience in both classes is second-to-none and we are thrilled that now the ground experience and hard product in the skies truly reflects the carrier’s continued investment in the passenger experience.
Winner – Best Design Airline Australasia 2019
Qantas has had an amazing year, launching new lounges, upgrading their A380’s and reimagining the ultra-long haul passenger experience. However the airline has continued to shape its design language with a consistent, light and airy touch with swathes of modernity. It’s no surprise to see the public opinion matching our own opinions with this centenary-celebrating carrier ruling the skies in its region. Thanks to the input of David Caon and the airline’s design team, Qantas has managed to embrace residential trends and bring a refreshing approach to the passenger experience both on the ground and in the air.
Winner – Best Design Airline Asia 2019
Singapore Airlines has reaffirmed its position as the leading carrier in Asia. Constantly investing in the passenger experience including retrofitted A380’s, 777’s and now new 787’s, every aircraft is the epitome of luxury in every class. But their investment in a modern, futuristic cabin paired with the carrier’s signature service has rewarded them the Best Design Airline, Asia. With the investment in both hard product and soft product there is a consistent design language across the passenger experience which results in a perfectly formed product. Singapore Airlines is still one of the major global players and this latest recognition reaffirms that.
Winner – Best Design Airline North America 2019
Delta has yet again held on to its crown this year as the leading Design Airline in North America. This is one global region where we are seeing huge improvements year-on-year and competition between carriers is getting stronger every year. However, Delta has chosen not to rest on its laurels and has continued to invest in the passenger experience with stunning design touch-points. With new industry-leading services in its main cabin through to rolling out its signature Delta One Suites across the fleet, the airline has continued to evolve, bringing a contemporary, stylish and welcoming atmosphere to the customer journey.
Winner – Best Design Airline South America 2019
LATAM may be the biggest player in South America, but it hasn’t purely relied on its size to stay on top. The carrier has continually introduced innovative passenger experience enhancements in all cabins to reinforce its standing, not just regionally, but on the global stage. The latest Premium Business Cabin now featured on its 767’s 787’s and 777’s is testament to the future of the carrier, and the airline’s lounges still remain some of the best in the world. We celebrate LATAM for holding on to its crown for yet another year.
Winner – Best Design Airline Africa 2019
South African Airways
South African Airways might have had a difficult year, but that hasn’t stopped it bringing yet more refurbished cabins to the fleet that celebrate South Africa’s vibrant and unique culture. The airline has managed to turn its passenger experience from a standard product to a world-leading one, including large Thompson Vantage XL seats in business class, featuring beautifully ornate details and textures and a true sense of its roots. In Africa, there are few carriers that can compare to South African’s attention to detail and celebration of their heritage, so it’s no surprise to see them come out trumps in this region.
Winner – Best Design Airline Middle East 2019
Oman Air is a rare gem in the Middle East, and in the past few years it has made great strides to develop its own design language that is both modern-elegance and celebratory of its local culture and roots. It’s this quiet, beautiful design that has the carrier drawing the attention of its fliers and of those further afield. With the latest fleet of 787-9’s including their stunning new First Class and Business Class cabins by Teague, the airline can compete with its larger next-door competitors. However Oman Air’s boutique product certainly makes it stand out, including lounges, seats, dining and – of course – excellent staff featuring the carrier’s brand-new slick uniforms.
Best Design Airline 2019
Our global standout winner this year is Singapore Airlines. The passenger experience resonates with travellers across the globe who voted for the airline. With new 787 regional flat bed products, investment in to re-imagining their lounges and one of the best existing products in the skies no matter which class you fly, Singapore has proudly risen its head to take top spot this year. The carrier has an eye for design, attention to detail and a product that usually surpasses expectations on every level. The future is bright for Singapore Airlines, and we are thrilled to award it Best Design Airline 2019.