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Best Airline 2014: Air New Zealand Takes Top Spot For Safety, Performance

01/14/2014 12:03 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST
Best Airline 2014
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02: An Air New Zealand jet featuring Smaug the Dragon is seen at a Meet and Greet with cast members of 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' at the LAX Flight Path Museum on December 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

(Relaxnews) - Air New Zealand has been named the top airline of 2014 by a safety and ratings review website which heaped unrestrained praise on the carrier for its in-flight services and safety performance.

Named the Airline of the Year for 2014, editors of AirlineRatings.com described the Kiwi carrier as an industry trendsetter, notably for programs like Skycouch which can transform three economy seats into a couch, ideal for couples or families with a young child.

Their specially designed Spaceseats, available in premium economy, also allow passengers travelling together to swivel their chairs and share a meal facing one another.

The design likewise prevents passengers from reclining their seats into the space of fellow travellers. Instead, the chairs slide forward like a reclining lounge chair.

In the online world, the carrier has endeared itself to digital consumers for its cheeky and entertaining in-flight safety videos.

Last year, their Hobbit-inspired video “An Unexpected Briefing” featured orcs, hobbits, elves and dwarves and became an instant viral video hit.

The airline was then able to up the ante by recruiting the world’s favourite nonagenarian Betty White to star in a new video set in a retirement home, which was released this year.

2014 Airline Excellence Awards Winners. Story continues after the gallery.

2014 Airline Excellence Awards Winners

Air New Zealand also nabbed the award for Best Premium Economy Class. Last week, AirlineRatings.com named Qantas the world's safest airline.