2024’s Must-Fly List: The World’s Top 10 Airlines for Seamless Travel

0
Boeing 777-300 Emirates Plane in Prague

When it comes to the best airlines in the world, I find it all a matter of opinion for most folks. Most of us have had a good experience or a bad one with one airline or another. But then, unless you’re in the business of rating airlines, how on earth would you know?

There are more than 5,000 different airlines around the world. Even the most jet-setting globe trotters won’t break more than 50 over a lifetime of traveling. How do you figure out the world’s best airline? Well, that’s exactly what the good folks at Skytrax figure out every year.

Skytrax (often stylized as SKYTRAX) is a research and consultancy firm that rates all things air travel. Among their unique tools and expertise, their biggest resource is trawling through mountains of surveys and customer feedback. They’re considered the ultimate authority on excellence in the industry.

So, who is Skytrax considered to be the world’s best airline? Read on; you might be surprised!

Best Airlines of the Year According to SKYTRAX

1. Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Logo
  • HQ: Singapore
  • Total Fleet Size: 161 Aircraft (63 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~110

If you’ve heard anything about Singapore Airlines, I’ll wager that it was about how good the experience is on a Singapore flight. Far from the biggest carrier in the world (or even in Asia), Singapore Airlines delivers top-notch service from gate to gate.

To show you how good they are, in the 22 years Skytrax has rated the world’s best airlines, they’ve been number one five times. Singapore Airlines has been in the top three airlines for all but two years! They are also one of only ten airlines Skytrax affords the coveted five-star rating.

There has been no airline that has been able to maintain this level of excellence. At this point, it’s hard to think there could be.

Singapore Airlines operates a state-of-the-art fleet of modern airliners. Passengers can expect comfortable cabins, S-tier entertainment systems, and what is widely acclaimed as the best airplane food in the business.

They also operate 20 subsidiaries, including the budget brand Scoot and a small cargo fleet. They even flew the world’s first Airbus A380 and used to run a Concorde *swoons*.

2. Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Logo
  • HQ: Doha, Qatar
  • Total Fleet Size: 258 Aircraft (192 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~150

This one should come as no surprise. Qatar Airways is another five-star airline and has brought home the gold medal from Skytrax seven times. Qatar’s national airline is famous for its award-winning service.

Passenger comfort is the priority, with comfortable cabins and cutting-edge amenities. The in-flight menus are consistently delicious and updated regularly.

It operates a modern aircraft fleet that is regularly updated with brand-new aircraft. It also enjoys great reach, flying to and from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe, as well as North and South America.

See Related: How To Make Long Flights More Comfortable (Step-by-Step)

3. ANA All Nippon Airways

All Nippon Airways Logo
  • HQ: Minato City, Tokyo, Japan
  • Total Fleet Size: 213 Aircraft (63 On order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~200

ANA All Nippon Airways is the largest carrier in Japan, and its star seems to be on the rise. From humble beginnings in post-war Japan, ANA started life in 1952 as the Japan Helicopter and Aeroplane Transports Company, operating two flimsy Bell 47 helicopters. Today, they are a Skytrax five-star airline, operating a fleet of around 200 of the latest Boeings and Airbuses, not to mention a small cargo wing.

It’s one of the main carriers for domestic flights across Japan, as well as international flights around Asia and same-day flights to North American destinations. Like all things public transit in Japan, ANA enjoys a fantastic reputation for punctuality, reliability, and professional, courteous service on every flight.

4. Emirates

Emirates Logo
  • HQ: Dubai, UAE
  • Total Fleet Size: 249 Aircraft (305 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~150

Emirates is another regular in Skytrax’s top three airlines of the year, having won four times and being the first gold medal winner in 2001. Since then, Emirates has become the benchmark of airline excellence.

Based out of the millionaires’ playground of Dubai in the UAE, Emirates flies all over the world and is known for its award-winning service and customer care. Their cabin crews are among the best in the biz, to the point where it’s a running joke in the airline industry.

Emirates operates a fleet of modern, comfortable aircraft, which is frequently updated. In fact, as of writing, Emirates is in the process of a mass modernization program that will see all of its current airframes replaced and total fleet size increased in the coming years.

5. Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines Logo
  • HQ: Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan
  • Total Fleet Size: 144 Aircraft (36 On Order – plans to expand to ~230 airframes)
  • Number of Destinations: ~100

Japan Airlines is Japan’s national carrier and the country’s oldest airline, founded in 1951. It’s also the second biggest carrier in Japan after ANA and has a modern fleet that is planned to expand to more than 230 aircraft.

While Japan Airlines has never broken into Skytrax’s top three airlines of the year, it’s one of only ten airlines with a five-star rating from Skytrax. This is likely due to their habitual punctuality and reputation for service and hospitality, rivaling that of Emirates.

See Related: Best Day to Book Flights This Year: Is Tuesday the Cheapest?

6. Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines Logo
  • HQ: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Total Fleet Size: 444 Aircraft (313 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~340

Turkish Airlines is one of the oldest flag carriers in the world, and in terms of international air travel, it is a simply enormous player. Frankly, it just cannot be beat in terms of raw numbers. It is largest mainline carrier in the world by number of passenger destinations, serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in the world, and flies to over 120 countries.

It’s also one of the largest airlines in the world, operating nearly 450 aircraft, including around 80 cargo planes. Over the next ten years, it is projected that Turkish Airlines will be purchasing over 600 new aircraft to make sure their fleet stays on the cutting edge of customer comfort and lower the company’s carbon footprint.

7. Air France

Air France Logo
  • HQ: Paris, France
  • Total Fleet Size: 217 Aircraft (46 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~310 

Air France, France’s national flag carrier, is one of my favorite airlines (sorry Delta and BA!). Partnered with ViaTravelers’ favorite KLM, Air France is the second largest airline in Europe but definitely comes first regarding food – I’ve never eaten so well at 36,000 feet.

With its roots in 1919, it’s another one of the oldest flag carriers in the world and one of only four operators of the world-famous supersonic Concorde. Known for its professional, courteous staff, Air France is also incredibly busy, sending people worldwide with a fairly modest fleet at their disposal. That said, they are modernizing and expanding their fleet, with around 50 airframes on order and the possibility of a further 50 to be split with KLM.

8. Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay Pacific Airways Logo
  • HQ: Cathay City, Hong Kong
  • Total Fleet Size: 177 Aircraft (63 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~200

The Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways is another top-tier airline on the list, founded in 1946 by Australian RAF pilot Syd de Kantzow and American CNAC pilot Roy Farrell. They’ve ranked in a top three position a total of ten times since the awards began, bringing home the gold four times, and is currently one of Skytrax’s five-star airlines. This last accolade Cathay has held consistently since 2006, along with Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.

A founder member of the Oneworld Global Alliance (along with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines International, and Qantas), Cathay enjoys terrific reach across the globe, flying to and from Hong Kong to over 200 destinations across Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. This is no small feat, given the relatively small fleet.

9. EVA Air

EVA Air Logo
  • HQ: Luzhu, Taoyuan City, Taiwan
  • Total Fleet Size: 87 Aircraft (47 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~60

The impact of EVA Air cannot be understated, especially considering its fleet is just over half the size of the next biggest airline. EVA Air has been a Skytrax five-star holder since 2016 and has served as an aerial artery across Southeast Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania since 1989. 

The airline operates from Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan and is the primary Taiwanese carrier flying to and from the PRC. EVA cabin crews are well known for their dedication to customer service, and their fleet comprises modern Airbus and Boeing airframes.

You’ve also got five classes to choose from, starting at the industry standard “Economy” and climbing up to the dizzying heights of “Royal Laurel Class.” Here, you can enjoy the latest and greatest entertainment systems, comfortable seats, and delicious fresh food you’d expect to find in a restaurant.

See Related: Best Flight Price Trackers to Find Great Deals

10. Korean Air

Korean Air Logo
  • HQ: Seoul/Incheon, South Korea
  • Total Fleet Size: 164 Aircraft (96 On Order)
  • Number of Destinations: ~130

Korean Air comes in at number ten, but that hasn’t stopped it from scooping up a Skytrax five-star rating. A founding member of SkyTeam along with Delta Air Lines, Air France, and Aeroméxico, South Korea’s flag carrier is headquartered in Seoul, with its main hub located in neighboring Incheon at ICN.

Korea Air flies all over the world and has historically catered to a diverse market, including commercial passenger flights, private charters, and cargo transportation. As such, their small fleet is pretty diverse, including airliners, small private jets, and even a few helicopters. They also operate a sizable cargo fleet about their total airframes.

Korean Air’s airliner fleet is really where it’s at. Their commercial fleet comes with the latest amenities and entertainment systems. The company’s cabin crews are also well-regarded for their friendly and professional service.

SKYTRAX’s Top 10 Five-Star Airlines

In addition to running the yearly airline of the year rankings, Skytrax has a highly coveted five-star system highlighting the ten most standout airlines. They’re one of the industry’s most coveted accolades, and only 17 airlines have ever held this elite status. Here are the ten current holders:

5-Star Airline

HQ

Alliance

Periods Held

All Nippon Airways

Tokyo, Japan

Star Alliance

2013–present

Asiana Airlines

Seoul, South Korea

Star Alliance

2007–present

Cathay Pacific

Cathay City, Hong Kong

Oneworld

2001–2002, 2004, 2006–present

EVA Air

Seoul, South Korea

Star Alliance

2016–present

Garuda Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

SkyTeam

2014–present

Hainan Airlines

Hainan, China

None

2010–present

Japan Airlines

Tokyo, Japan

Oneworld

2018–present

Korean Air

Seoul, South Korea

SkyTeam

2020–present

Qatar Airways

Doha, Qatar

Oneworld

2006–present

Singapore Airlines

Singapore

Star Alliance

2001–2002, 2004, 2006–present

FAQs

What is SKYTRAX?

Skytrax (funded as Inflight Research Services) is a United Kingdom–based consultancy and research group headquartered in London that runs an airline and airport review website. They are considered the industry standard when it comes to airline excellence.

Does SKYTRAX rate other categories?

Yes! Besides the annual World Airline Awards, Skytrax holds the World Airport Awards,along with ranking airlines and airports overall, including things like prices, cleanliness, friendliness, lounges, in-flight entertainment, and much more.

Related Resources

James Oliver
WRITTEN BY

James Oliver

James, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a British-American writer and editor for ViaTravelers who has been writing since he learned how to use a pen. As someone who has spent much time trotting around the globe, James appreciates traveling smart and comfortably and has every intention of helping ViaTravelers's readers do the same!

James is all about traveling light, enjoys hiking around old forts and ruins, loves boring people with military history, and is always on the hunt for the best place to grab a bite to eat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *