Australian Traveller’s first-ever Readers’ Choice Awards for 2011; results for Best Major Airline in Australia. THE WINNER:

QANTAS
This is an interesting one. The voting period for these awards ran from July 27 until November 1 – just two days after Qantas grounded its fleet as a desperate tactic to end industrial action. Most of our readers’ votes had already been cast at that stage and it ultimately turned out that over 50 per cent of AT readers nominated Qantas as Australia’s best major airline. It received more than double the votes of second-placed contender Virgin. What can you conclude from this? Before the Qantas debacle happened, the airline was a solid favourite (by far) among regular domestic travellers. Readers said Qantas was “still the best for reliability and service”; they loved Qantas because it “excels at customer service” and “puts safety first”. One reader praised the airline because “the last time we came from Sydney to Armidale, many passengers’ connecting flights were late, and our plane waited over an hour until every passenger was on board”. From AT’s own experience, although our editor was stranded in Adelaide when the Qantas fleet was grounded, she reports that she has experienced more cancellations and flight delays with Virgin than she has with Qantas over the past 12 months. So maybe the backlash against Qantas won’t last forever – there is a lot of goodwill for the airline among frequent flyers. So there you have it. Oh well, we had to end on a contentious note!
THE DETAILS 13 13 13; qantas.com.au

RUNNERS-UP:

2 VIRGIN
Branson’s upstart airline may have gained more points if people were voting now! It’s gained many new fans thanks to stepping in and saving the day during the Qantas dispute. virginaustralia.com
3 JETSTAR
Super-cheap flights to increasingly interesting destinations – and staff who genuinely seem to enjoy their work – more than make up for uncomfortable seats. jetstar.com
(Note: just three readers voted for Tiger, and this was the general sentiment: “Without it, all the other airlines would be more expensive.”

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