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Skytrax, a UK-based consultancy which runs an airline and airport review and ranking website, has published its annual rankings of the “world's best airlines”. While the merits of these rankings, based on votes from “airline customers around the world”, can be debated, there is no question that both passengers and the airlines themselves take them very seriously. For 2016, Emirates has overtaken Qatar Airways as the Airline of the Year; this is the fourth time Emirates has earned that distinction.
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- EVA Air
- Qantas Airways
All of the top 10 airlines were also ranked in the top 10 last year except Lufthansa, making the jump from the #12 spot to the #10 spot. Garuda Indonesia dropped out of the top 10 to the #11 spot.
We cannot disagree with the airlines ranked in the top 10 as they are all exceptional. Not surprisingly, absent from the top 10 are U.S. airlines. The highest ranked U.S. carrier was Virgin America (#25). The highest ranked of the three major U.S. carriers was Delta (#35).
An interesting aspect of the top 10 airlines is how relatively easy it is to book awards on most of them. AA miles can be used to book awards with Qatar, Etihad, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. United miles can be used to book awards with Singapore, ANA, Turkish, EVA, and Lufthansa. Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book awards on Emirates (although the new Alaska award chart for Emirates is far from ideal).
On the other hand, Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner for all four major flexible rewards currencies: Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. All other airlines ranked in the Top 10 are a transfer partner of at least one of these four programs, except Turkish.
This shouldn't be a gold standard for who you decide to fly, but at a minimum at least you have a few data points on what others are saying. Who's your favorite?
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