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No U.S. Carriers Among World’s Best Airlines?

No U.S. Carriers Among World’s Best Airlines?

Skytrax has been conducting its World Airline Survey since 1999. For 2013, the survey results covered more than 200 airlines, with respondents representing more than 100 different nationalities. The company boasts that it uses sophisticated data-weighting algorithms to compensate for different sample sizes, and has fraud-detection mechanisms in place to maintain the results’ legitimacy. And the research is not funded by any of the ranked companies.

In other words, as surveys of the world’s airlines go, this is arguably the gold standard.

The Best Overall

So, which of the world’s airlines were ranked best overall?

Here are the top 20:

1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
7. Etihad Airways
8. Garuda Indonesia
9. Turkish Airlines
10. Qantas Airways
11. Lufthansa
12. EVA Air
13. Virgin Australia
14. Malaysia Airlines
15. Thai Airways
16. Swiss Int’l Air Lines
17. Korean Air
18. Air New Zealand
19. Hainan Airlines
20. Air Canada

U.S. Airlines

Given the global nature of the survey, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that American carriers fared poorly against competitors from Asia and, increasingly, the Middle East.

The best showing for a U.S. airline in the “Best Overall” category was Virgin America, at number 26. Other U.S. carriers: Delta, number 45; JetBlue, 46; United, 57; Alaska, 62; Southwest, 74; Hawaiian, 79; American, 81; US Airways, 97.

Best Alliance

Among the other categories of note was the award for the best global airline alliance.

Of the three alliances, survey respondents voted oneworld the best, followed by Star and SkyTeam.

That’s a result that’s likely to puzzle U.S.-based travelers, who generally favor Star over oneworld.

Reader Reality Check

Which airline gets your vote for best carrier overall?

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  • Eric Westby

    I’m impressed that Turkish was once again the best airline based in Europe. Can’t wait for our business class flights to IST and back this October — if the city isn’t in flames by then. :^/

  • Nick Knight

    One they are not based in Europe, they are Turkish. As they become more Islamic, things might change. Already no booze on domestic flights. More changes likely to come.

  • Eric Westby

    I know where Turkey is. 😉 And they must agree with me: they’ve been crowing about being named the “best airline in Europe” for years!

  • Julie Graves

    Personally I would never by choice fly a US airline, European, pacific or Eastern airlines win hands down on service, price and comfort

  • peterknight

    Wow. Turkey is in Middle East? Get out your world map and read it. It is the only non european country as part of the EU, right?

  • peterknight

    If the US carriers focused more on service and attitude, and not nickel and diming every thing, they would get in to the top 20 at least.

  • Nick Knight

    Yes read a map, only a tiny bit of Istanbul. Sorry, that is reality. They want to be in the EU, but they never will be. They do not belong by any measure.

  • Nick Knight

    You can call a dog a cow, but that don’t make it so.

  • Eric Westby

    Actually it’s not in the EU, though not for lack of trying. Historically and philosophically it has straddled Europe and Asia, just as it does geographically.

  • Eric Westby

    Remember though, the leaders in the ultra-low-cost, nickel-and-diming arena are RyanAir and easyJet, both based in Europe. US carriers like Spirit are following their lead.

  • Joe Lowry

    Thanks for the high quality discourse

  • Kathleen Clair

    I fly Delta 99% of the time but LOVE Emirates!

  • Kathleen Clair

    Don’t expect any blonde, red lipstick-wearing flight attendants!

  • aerobat

    The population of the European part of Istanbul is greater than that of hundreds of square miles of Anatolia (which I’m sure you know is the Asian part of Turkey).

  • metro_struggler

    That’s gotta be a mistake. Garuda in the top 10???