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The Most Memorable Flights of 2023

December 30, 2023
Sam Helmy
With 2023 wrapping up, it is now time to look at some of our most memorable flights of the year. Journeys, where the experience delivers on different levels and will stick in our minds for years to come.

The bottom line is that some flights are better than others, even if you only fly first class and in premium cabins. So, with the end of the year just around the corner, what are some of my memorable flights of the year? You will be surprised. While, for sure, the usual suspects like Singapore Airlines and ANA are there, there are some that you would not expect.

My 2023 Favorite Flight is Singapore Airlines Business Class from Frankfurt to New York.

I took this flight at the tail end of a 38-hour journey, and despite being beyond exhausted, it was one to be remembered for all the right reasons. This flight was special because I had never flown to Singapore before, although I had heard many excellent things about its business and first-class products. This is doubly true on its fifth freedom route from Frankfurt, Germany, to New York JFK.

What can i say apart from Singapore Airlines blew me away with this flight
What can i say apart from Singapore Airlines blew me away with this flight

If I were pushed, I would run our superlatives describing this fantastic flight. The seats were beyond comfortable. The food was outstanding, and the crew delivered a service that is hard to beat. Exceptional features of this flights included (but by no means are limited to):

  • An amazing ground experience from check-in to the gate despite losing my boarding card.
  • Fabulous crew, all smiles, a supreme polished service.
  • Unbelievable food and drink selection and quality, Singapore business class beats many other first-class services hands down.
  • More tea and coffee than I have seen in some coffee houses.
  • Great amenities and soft products in the cabin are indeed something unique to Singapore.
  • Excellent IFE and smooth, stable gate-to-gate Wi-Fi.
Singapore business class really took me to new level in 2023
Singapore business class really took me to new level in 2023

Needless to say, nothing is ever perfect, and the flight had some negative, although they are small, and I am really nit-picking when I say the following:

  • The IFE was a little dated and had no touchscreen function.
  • The Singapore Business class seat feels a little old now.

Air Canada Signature Business Class B787-900 Sao Paulo Brazil GRU to Montreal Canada YUL  

This was a very, and I mean very, close second to my favorite flight of the year. The Air Canada Signature Business class experience was exceptional and as close as possible to a perfect flight. I was very surprised by the polished level of service, and it is something I would not normally associate with North American Carriers.

I found the Air Canada business class seats very comfortable and pleasant
I found the Air Canada business class seats very comfortable and pleasant

In addition, the hard product was excellent, and in fact, it was one of the best seats I have slept in. However, I have to say what truly made this flight outstanding was the crew. They delivered an outstanding service on so many different levels. Highlights of the Air Canada Signature Business Class include:

  • Amazing crew and service, professional, polished, friendly, and approachable; I could not imagine a better team.
  • Fast and efficient, everything on the flight felt slick and polished.
  • Excellent seat, ideal for a variety of different activities. I found it super comfortable to sleep in as well as ideal for working. With plenty of surface for laptops and tablets.
  • The food was brilliant, and I was pleasantly surprised.
  • Excellent IFE and one of the best seat control systems I have ever seen.
The service Air Canada deliver on this flight was epic and on par with anything i had experienced
The service Air Canada deliver on this flight was epic and on par with anything i had experienced

That said, there are a couple of things that knocked the flight off my top spot.

  • The Wi-fi left a lot to be desired; it was not the easiest to connect to and use.
  • While very comfortable in sleep mode, I felt the bedding could do with an upgrade.

Delta One Business Class A330-900neo Minneapolis St. Paul MSP to Tokyo Haneda Japan HND

The words “Delta Airline” and “Amazing Service” are seldom found in the same sentence, which is perhaps why my experience on this flight blew me away. The crew was outstanding on this flight and truly made it for me. Being a brand new flight, it was the first revenue flight of the aircraft; it oozed brand new aircraft and had that new plane smell.

Delta really surprised me with the quality of service they delivered this time around
Delta really surprised me with the quality of service they delivered this time around

Overall, the plane had a pretty good hard product, and some excellent amenities were on offer. The food was better than I had on some other flights. Highlights of this flight include:

  • The crew was brilliant; I can not speak more highly of them.
  • The Delta One suite was perfect for privacy and getting down to some work or sleep.
  • The food was outstanding compared to the previous fare provided by Delta; this flight felt like a different airline.
  • I found the tray table perfect for getting a ton of work done.
  • Great bedding for sleeping.
  • The IFE had plenty of options to keep everyone entertained.
The Delta flight was so new. This was the first revenue flight of the aircraft.
The Delta flight was so new. This was the first revenue flight of the aircraft.

Unfortunately, Delta did not get everything right on this flight, and some things were to be desired.

  • The Amenity kits are not up to par for intercontinental travel; Delta really needs to up its game.
  • No working Wi-Fi was a productivity killer for me on this flight.

Vietnam Airlines Business Class B787-900 Hanoi Vietnam HAN to Frankfurt Germany FRA

If you are a little surprised to see Vietnam Airlines on this list, so was I, and I would have never expected the flight to make it until I got on board. The truth of the matter is my opinion is a little biased since, for the first time ever in my travel journalism career, I was made to feel like a travel rock star on board.

While it felt dated, the experience was still very memorable
While it felt dated, the experience was still very memorable

Without a shadow of a doubt, the crew is the primary reason this flight is on this list. They were amazingly friendly and made me feel warm and welcome for the duration of the flight. In fact, the crew were some of the friendliest and most hospitable I have met anywhere on my travels. Highlights of the flight include:

  • Amazing crew; what a superb, friendly level of service.
  • Great IFE, with excellent and varied choices.
  • A comfortable seat, although it is pretty standard and similar to what you would find on many carriers.
  • Amazing food: I was very surprised by the food’s quality.
My experience on Vietnam Airlines was memorable mainly to the amazing staff
My experience on Vietnam Airlines was memorable mainly to the amazing staff

If I am being honest, this flight did have some serious drawbacks, and without the outstanding service, it would not be on the list. Key issues I had with this flight include:

  • No Wi-Fi. Hello, welcome to the 21st century!
  • The plane is starting to show its age, and it feels like it is undermaintained.
  • The bathroom toilet started leaking mid-flight, which was awful.
  • The service could sometimes be a little rushed and needed some polish.
  • Basic errors like spelling and other stuff make things feel odd.

Al Nippon Airways ANA Business Class B787-900 Vancouver Canada YVR to Tokyo Haneda HND

This year, after many missed opportunities, I finally managed to get myself an ANA business class ticket across the Pacific. Frankly, I was not disappointed, and the ANA aircraft and service lived up to the hype. This was especially true in light of some of the other transpacific flights I had taken in the last couple of years with JAL.

The ANA experience was memorable and on par with its main competitor JAL
The ANA experience was memorable and on par with its main competitor JAL

The experience aboard ANA was a total pleasure, and I would fly it again in a heartbeat. The service was excellent and polished. The hard product was excellent, with some cool features, and the service was attentive and professional. Features of the ANA flight included:

  • Fabulous hard product on the seat front, with plenty of privacy and storage space.
  • The cabin and seating area are beautiful and tastefully decorated.
  • Awe-inspiring service in terms of attention to detail and variety. Four different attendants served me during the flight.
The All Nippon Airways seating and experience delivered on so many levels
The All Nippon Airways seating and experience delivered on so many levels

While the flight had its positives, as with every flight on the list, some things could have been done better, and these included:

  • The food was not up to par in certain sections. However, I believe this is not an issue with ANA but with its catering company.
  • The cabin temperature was brutally cold mid-flight, which is typical for Japanese airlines, which generally have warm cabins.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that it is quite a lot of fun making these lists, and it is hard to do it justice. But bear in mind that many other flights could have been on here. For instance, Oman Air’s first class was outstanding on the two flights I took this year but lacked that X factor. Purely objectively, it should be on this list. However, this is a list of memorable, enjoyable flights, and some flights, despite their pedigree, were just not as memorable as the ones mentioned here.