These Are the Best Airlines in the World for 2018
Flying is usually a stressful experience, what with the long waits at security, the lackluster airport food, the crowds at the gate, and the crowded cabins onboard the plane. But some airlines offer a better experience than others. Skytrax gave the World Airline Awards for 2018 to the 100 best airlines in the world, as voted on by customers around the world. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, no U.S. airlines made the top 15.) You can check out the awards’ website for the full airline rankings, or get a quick guide to the winners, ahead.
15. Etihad Airways
Business Insider reports that Etihad Airways landed in fifteenth place among the best airlines in the world. It’s based in Abu Dhabi and serves as the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates. You may have heard of it because of its famous Residence flying apartments, plus the suites that it offers in first class and business class. Skytrax’s airline ratings award five stars to Etihad. Reviewers loved the carrier’s first-class lounge in Abu Dhabi. And they also appreciated the seats, cleanliness, entertainment, and meal service on Etihad’s flights.
Next: This Chinese airline has come a long way in the past few years.
14. China Southern Airlines
Next on the list? China Southern Airlines, which took home the prize for fourteenth place among the best airlines in the world. Business Insider reports that China Southern also won awards for the Most Improved Airlines, Best First Class in China, and Best First Class Lounge in China. The Skytrax airline ratings give this carrier four stars. The airline earned its best ratings for its attention to cabin safety, the staff’s cabin presence and attention, and the crew’s responsiveness to passengers’ requests.
Next: This Japanese carrier has delicious meals onboard.
13. Japan Airlines
Thirteenth place among the best airlines in the world went to Japan Airlines, according to Business Insider. The publication characterizes Japan’s national carrier as one of the most respected airlines in the world. Reviewers loved its attentive service, well-coordinated ground staff, and comfortable cabins. Plus, Skytrax gave Japan Airlines the award for the Best Economy Class Airline Seat. The group’s airline ratings even awarded the carrier a coveted five stars. Reviewers particularly liked amenities such as the duvets and pillows. And they gave top marks to the quality of meals served and the quality of wine and beverages. They even liked the onboard Wi-Fi and connectivity.
Next: This European airline has moved up in the world since its relatively recent founding.
12. Swiss International Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines landed in twelfth place on the list of the best airlines in the world. If you’re not sure whether you’re familiar with this carrier, you’re not alone. Business Insider explains that this airline “emerged in 2002 from the remnants of the now-defunct Swissair and is now a member of the Lufthansa corporate family.” The Skytrax airline ratings give Swiss International Air Lines four stars. One factor that earned top marks? The airline’s priority boarding service, something that can come in handy if you need to get on the plane and get situated early.
Next: This carrier offers excellent service and entertainment.
11. Qantas Airways
Next on the list? Qantas Airways. This carrier took home the award for eleventh place among the best airlines in the world. Business Insider reports that this airline has experienced a resurgence and really stepped up its game over the past couple of years. And this year, it earned praise for its customer service and in-flight entertainment. Plus, even anxious fliers love the airline’s calling card: its fatality-free safety record. Skytrax’s airline ratings award Qantas four stars. And as you might expect, reviewers gave top marks to the airline’s attention to cabin safety.
Next: Even economy seats on this airline are comfortable.
10. Thai Airways
Thai Airways earned tenth place among the best airlines in the world at this year’s World Airline Awards, CNN reports. Business Insider characterizes the airline as a longtime leader in high-quality service. And that doesn’t only apply to travelers who fly in first class. The publication reports that “Though its most heralded products are its business and first-class services, fliers found its economy seats to be of high quality as well.” In fact, Skytrax’s airline ratings award Thai Airways four stars. Reviewers particularly liked the carrier’s hospitality and friendliness. (We think that’s something many passengers would also appreciate after a harried trek through the airport.)
Next: This carrier offers great amenities and meal service.
9. Garuda Indonesia
Garuda Indonesia took home the prize for ninth place, according to CNN. The network reports that this airline has “turned its service around since the early days of Skytrax, when it was banned from flying into European airspace.” Further evidence of that turnaround? Garuda also earned the prize for the best cabin staff. Skytrax’s airline ratings give Garuda five stars. The carrier earned top marks for its seat comfort and personal space. Reviewers loved its duvets and pillows, plus the amenity kit and washroom amenities. They also priased the quality of Garuda’s wine and beverages. And they appreciated the flexibility of the carrier’s meal service.
Next: This airline is the only one in its region to earn five stars from Skytrax.
8. Hainan Airlines
China’s Hainan Airlines landed in eighth place among the best airlines in the world, CNN reports. Business Insider explains that Hainan Airlines remains the only Chinese carrier to hold Skytrax’s coveted five-star rating. And that’s not Hainan’s only impressive accomplishment. In just four years, the airline moved into the top 10 all the way from place 22 in the airline rankings. Skytrax reviewers give Hainan top marks for the business class and economy class experience on long-haul flights. And they also loved the first class and business class experience on short-haul flights.
Next: This beloved airline offers excellent service.
CNN reports that Lufthansa was the only European airline to make the top 10 at this year’s World Airline Awards. In fact, it landed in seventh place among the best airlines in the world. According to Business Insider, Lufthansa “surged into the top 10 over the past couple of years.” Reviewers love the airline’s customer service. And the Skytrax airline ratings award five stars to Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline. The carrier won over reviewers with its attention to cabin safety. They also loved the crew’s speedy in-flight service, hospitality, and responsiveness to passengers’ requests.
Next: This airline offers a great experience even in economy.
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
Sixth place among the best airlines in the world went to Cathay Pacific Airways, CNN reports. This Hong Kong-based carrier fell one spot in the rankings this year, according to Business Insider. But there’s nothing to worry about. The publication notes that Cathay Pacific remains “one of the most respected carriers from the Pacific Rim.” Skytrax’s airline ratings award the carrier five stars. And Cathay Pacific earns top marks for the experience in business class and economy class on short-haul flights.
Next: This carrier keeps its cabins — and restrooms — clean.
5. EVA Air
EVA Air landed in fifth place among the best airlines in the world at this year’s World Airline Awards, according to CNN. Business Insider reports that this Taiwanese airline was founded in 1989 and “has grown immensely in the past two decades.” The carrier gets credit for pioneering the “premium economy” cabin. And the Skytrax airline ratings give EVA five stars for its economy class experience. Reviewers also awarded EVA top marks for its onboard “comfort items” like blankets and pillows, plus its washroom cleanliness and amenities.
Next: Everyone loves this airline’s entertainment system.
CNN reports that Emirates took home the prize for fourth place among the best airlines in the world for 2018. And fourth place is absolutely a distinction that should make the carrier proud. Business Insider reports that over the past 30 years, Emirates has become “one of the world’s premier long-haul carriers.” It operates out of a “palatial” hub at Dubai International Airport. And passengers love Emirates for its famous in-flight entertainment system. Plus, Skytrax’s airline ratings give Emirates four stars. Reviewers gave the airline top marks for its first-class experience as well as its onboard Wi-Fi and connectivity.
Next: People love the seats on this Japanese airline’s planes.
3. ANA All Nippon Airways
Third place among the best airlines in the world went to ANA All Nippon Airways, according to CNN. Plus, Skytrax’s airline ratings give ANA five stars. Business Insider reports that this airline ranks as the largest international carrier in Japan. The publication also notes that reviewers love the carrier’s cleanliness, service, and safety. Plus, many of ANA All Nippon’s planes feature forward-style reclining seats. Sound weird? They shouldn’t; they actually increase your overall privacy. Additionally, you’ll get access to power outlets and USB outlets even in economy-class seats.
Next: This airline wins second place with its excellent experience in business class.
2. Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways didn’t win first place among the best airlines in the world (an honor that CNN reports it took home in 2017, 2015, 2012, and 2011). But it did win second place. And according to CNN, “the Doha-based carrier took home prizes for best business class, best airline in the Middle East, and best business class seat.” Skytrax’s airline ratings also give Qatar Airways top marks for its long-haul flights in first class, business class, and even economy class. Additionally, customers also love its first-class lounges. (Lounges that good are probably the best part of flying, if you ask us!)
Next: This airline offers the best of the best in service and experience.
1. Singapore Airlines
CNN reports that Singapore Airlines beat last year’s winner, Qatar Airways, for first place among the best airlines in the world for 2018. CNN explains that “The top prize in what is seen as the aviation industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, was one of four awards taken home by Singapore. It also claimed best first class, best airline in Asia and best first class seat.” Plus, Skytrax’s airline ratings praise the quality of the carrier’s “onboard product and staff service, and the Singapore Airlines home base airport service.” The cabin crew even earned top marks for their language skills.
Read more: 15 Secrets Airlines Don’t Want You to Know
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