The Top 10 International Airlines
Long-haul flights tend to bring into sharp relief the best and worst qualities of airlines. Customers expect a seamless experience from check-in to touchdown, and they notice when something goes awry. This year’s World's Best winners, as voted by our readers, consistently exceed expectations across every class of service, including premium economy — an increasingly prevalent offering on both domestic and international carriers.
Every year for the World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the airlines category, readers rated carriers on cabin comfort, service, food, customer service, and value.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
Readers didn’t hesitate to once again reward Emirates Airline with the No. 2 spot, calling it “superb on every level” from its gracious staff to its comfortable cabins. “Literally the best airline I have ever flown — everything is wonderful,” touted one frequent flier. Part of what differentiates the carrier is the staff’s ability to read customers and anticipate needs in order to elevate the level of hospitality. One particularly accommodating example: “The lady who checked us in saw how tired we were,” recalled a reader of a recent family trip. “Without letting us know, she upgraded us to business class so we were able to relax.”
Qatar Airways (once again No. 3), which launched its new business class, Qsuite, in November, also earned accolades for its “superior attention to detail” and courteous staff. “I feel rested and cared for on my journey,” said one reader, who lauded the Doha-based carrier for “showing the glory days of airline travel aren’t over.” Several voters appreciated Taiwanese carrier Eva Air’s “excellent service” and cheerful Hello Kitty planes. Also popular: Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), which garnered the No. 7 position. One reader liked the premium amenity kit, which was designed by Samsonite.
Below, the full list of winners. Collectively, they span all corners of the globe, but as in the international airport category, the Middle East and Asia dominated the field.
10 Eva Air
9. Etihad Airways
8. Virgin Atlantic Airways
7. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
5. Air New Zealand
4. Japan Airlines
3. Qatar Airways
2. Emirates Airline
1. Singapore Airlines
If you’re sitting through one of the world’s longest flights, you want to do so in comfort, which is precisely why so many people remain loyal to this carrier. “Traveling on Singapore is like staying in one of the world’s best hotels,” described one reader. “It spoils you for life.” The airline has held the top spot in this category for all 23 years of the survey with “truly personal” service, whether it’s how conscientious the flight crew is to a food allergy, or following up to ensure a delayed bag promptly makes it back to its owner. There’s “a genuine willingness to help,” said a fan. “By far the best customer service I’ve received from an airline.”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.