The Top 10 International Airlines in 2018

Singapore Airlines plane over Dusseldorf, Germany
Photo: iStockphoto/Getty Images

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 + Leisureasks 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.

01 of 10

10 Eva Air

EVA Air Boeing 747 in flight
Bayne Stanley/Alamy

Score: 83.48

02 of 10

9. Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways plane at the Dubai Airshow
Natalie Naccache/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Score: 83.71

03 of 10

8. Virgin Atlantic Airways

Virgin Atlantic Airbus at Heathrow Airport
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Score: 83.78

04 of 10

7. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) jetliners on the Tarmac and Haneda International Airport
Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Score: 83.98

05 of 10

6. Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay Pacific in-flight service
Courtesy of Cathay Pacific

Score: 84.15

06 of 10

5. Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand plane in flight
Courtesy of Air New Zealand

Score: 84.44

07 of 10

4. Japan Airlines

New Japan Airlines crew celebrate in front of a Boeing 777
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Score: 85.73

08 of 10

3. Qatar Airways

Cabin service on a Qatar Airways flight
Courtesy of Qatar Airways

Score: 86.83

09 of 10

2. Emirates Airline

Tail of an Airbus A380 operated by Emirates at the Dubai Airshow
Victor Frail/Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Score: 88.00

10 of 10

1. Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines planes at Changi airport
iStockphoto/Getty Images

Score: 90.36

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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles