World's Best Airlines

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Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

Get your vacation off to the right start by booking a flight on one of these top-rated airlines.

No. 1 Singapore Airlines

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For the 17th year in a row—ever since T+L inaugurated the World’s Best Awards—Singapore Airlines has been readers’ overall favorite. This year, the airline came out on top in every category: cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service, and value. The 32-inch seat pitch in economy class helps, as do the flight attendants, famous for their above-and-beyond service and sarong and kebaya uniforms. Bedtime turndown service is even part of the flying experience for those with pockets deep enough to book the A380 first-class suites that feature sliding doors, 23-inch TVs, and stand-alone beds hand-stitched by master Italian craftsmen Poltrona Frau.

World's Best Airlines

No. 1 Singapore Airlines

For the 17th year in a row—ever since T+L inaugurated the World’s Best Awards—Singapore Airlines has been readers’ overall favorite. This year, the airline came out on top in every category: cabin comfort, food, in-flight service, customer service, and value. The 32-inch seat pitch in economy class helps, as do the flight attendants, famous for their above-and-beyond service and sarong and kebaya uniforms. Bedtime turndown service is even part of the flying experience for those with pockets deep enough to book the A380 first-class suites that feature sliding doors, 23-inch TVs, and stand-alone beds hand-stitched by master Italian craftsmen Poltrona Frau.

Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

World's Best Airlines

Buckling your airplane seatbelt and weight-loss personality Richard Simmons aren't things you'd necessarily think go together. But if you flew on Air New Zealand in the recent past, it's Simmons who may have video-instructed you how to buckle up.

Great companies always think outside the box, and Air New Zealand is no exception. In the most recent Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards survey, the Kiwi airline came in No. 2. And while readers didn't specifically rank in-flight entertainment, ANZ's fresh, amusing spin on the standard safety video surely gave passengers a memorable impression of the airline.

The factors our readers did vote on, across 76 global airlines: cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value, and food. No one was surprised to see Singapore Airlines topping the list; it has been the No. 1 airline for the past 17 years. And Singapore Airlines must be doing something right—it didn't even have Richard Simmons entertaining its passengers.

While many of the best airlines are indeed Asian, it's remarkable that half of the airlines in the survey's top 10 rankings are from different continents. And they got to the top through more than stellar customer service. The survey's value category allows readers to voice their complaints—with a vote—about high airfares that offer little value for money. And while no one boards a plane for the sake of eating, a celebrity chef or commitment to better-than-average in-flight meals did have an impact on the results.

Cabin comfort is also key, and this is where creative carriers shine. In some cases, it's about providing power outlets at every seat. For others, like Asiana and Cathay Pacific, it's the introduction of premium economy class on transpacific flights—a gesture to passengers who dread coach seats on a 14-hour flight but can't afford a business class seat.

So in 2012, competition remains heady at the top. Find out which airlines earned the highest marks for a combination of innovation, service, and the perception that even if what they offer is fully priced, it remains good value.

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