The 'most excellent' airlines for 2016 - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

The 'most excellent' airlines for 2016

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(CNN) -- Its star-studded safety videos show the airline making happy customers of everyone from hulking sports stars to pocket-sized hobbits.

But Air New Zealand isn't just leading the way in viral hits.

Australia-based website AirlineRatings.com has named Air New Zealand the 2016 Airline of the Year in its prestigious Airline Excellence Awards.

The "industry trendsetter" was praised for its award-winning inflight innovations, operational safety and environmental leadership.

It's the third time in a row it's won the title, and this year it scored another triple with wins in the Best Premium Economy Class and Best Economy Class categories.

AirlineRatings credited Air NZ advances like the Premium Economy Spaceseat, designed so the person in front can't lean into a passenger's space, and the Skycouch, a row of three economy seats with footrests that lift up to create a flexible space for young families or couples.

Qantas has doubled size of economy meals

Also showing passengers a good time is Australian airline Qantas.

Having led the way by installing showers in its lounges several decades ago, Qantas cleaned up in the Best Lounges, Best Catering and Best Domestic Service categories.

AirlineRatings.com was impressed by the new Qantas lounges in Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

There was also praise for the Aussie carrier's robust broadband Internet access -- something a lot of other carriers fell down on.

Some 90% of Qantas passengers fly economy and the airline hasn't forgotten that the way to the customer's heart is through the stomach.

It offers a choice of four main meal options and has doubled the size of meals.

Best luxury travel

If you're looking for a premium experience, AirlineRatings.com says Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines are the way to go.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad was named Best First Class and Singapore Airlines' "subtle, elegant, functional and very cozy" Business Class stole the top prize in its category.

Singapore Airlines won the award for Best In-Flight Entertainment for its 1,000 on-demand options.

Virgin Australia and partner airline Virgin Atlantic won Best Cabin Crew for the second year in a row, and Virgin Australia was named Best New World Carrier.

Low cost and long haul

For value and safety in the Low Cost Airline sector the AirlineRatings.com team gave the honors to Virgin America (Americas), Norwegian (Europe), Kulula.com (Africa/Middle-East) and Scoot for Asia/Pacific.

For excellence in Long Haul, the winners were Delta Air Lines (Americas), Lufthansa (Europe), Etihad (Middle East/Africa) and Cathay Pacific Airways for Asia/Pacific.

AirlineRatings.com's top 10 airlines for 2016

1. Air New Zealand

2. Qantas

3. Etihad

4. Cathay Pacific

5. Singapore Airlines

6. Emirates

7. EVA Air

8. Virgin Atlantic/Virgin Australia

9. All Nippon Airways

10. Lufthansa

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