The World’s Best Airlines. (And No, None Are American.)
Skytrax has released its annual list of the world’s 10 best airlines. Here they are, from #1 down:
- Asiana Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Air New Zealand
- Etihad Airways
- Thai Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
Two things stand out. First, Asian and Australia/New Zealand dominate. I fly Air New Zealand and Qantas regularly, and think both are excellent. (Air New Zealand is better, as the ratings indicate.) I also like Virgin Australia, which isn’t on the list but has a great non-stop from Melbourne to Los Angeles for between $800-1000 (US). My friends fly Singapore, Etihad, and Emirates regularly and rave about all three, especially Singapore.
Second, there are no US airlines on the list. In fact, no US airline wins any of Skytrax’s 50-odd individual awards, either. That, of course, should come as no surprise to anyone who lives in the US. Our airlines are absolutely atrocious — dirty, cramped, lousy food, unpleasant service, pathetic entertainment. (The only airlines that are anywhere near as bad are British Midlands and British Airways.) A friend recently flew to Melbourne on United. It was a 14-hour flight and the only entertainment was the airline-selected movie shown on little televisions attached to the ceiling. Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Virgin, by contrast, have in-seat TV screens with your choice of more than 120 movies. And the food is good.
Skytrax’s rankings don’t take them into account, but the difference between Asian and American airports is also stark. Denver and Indianapolis have nice airports, but most are just as dirty, cramped, and unpleasant as the airlines themselves. (And don’t get me started on US customs…) The Asian airports, by contrast, are fantastic. They’re spacious, clean, with great food choices and — invariably — free internet everywhere. And getting though customs is a breeze.
I really don’t miss living in the US.