As budget airlines continue to shake up the market, legacy carriers are pulling out all the stops in an increasingly competitive market.
With private suites and onboard spas become commonplace, AirHelp Score has released its ranking of airlines to help sort the best from the rest.
AirHelp's ranking is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and takes into account a number of metrics in three key areas:
- Quality and Service: Airhelp factors in details from Skytraxresearch.com to help determine an airline's quality both on and off the ground.
- On-Time Performance: The company looked at the on-time departure statistics for each airline for the last three months.
- Claim Processing: How efficiently each airline handled complaints and compensations claims was also taken into account.
Although big names like Qatar, Emirates, and British Airways appear in the rankings, some others may surprise you, including Italian carrier Air Dolomiti which earned a respectable second place.
US airlines are notably absent, while two British carriers made the list.
14. British Airways — Britain had two airlines in the top 14 — more than any other country. London-based British Airways performed best in the claims processing category.
13. Emirates — Emirates is often considered the face of luxury long-haul air travel and that was reflected in its strong scoring for quality and service. However, its position was lowered by a weaker performance in the other categories.
12. Air France — The French carrier has had a fantastic year. In 2016, it won awards for Best First Class Airline Lounge Dining and Best First Class Comfort Amenities, but its lowest score was for the punctuality of its flights.
11. Lufthansa — With 268 aircraft in its fleet — excluding all subsidiaries — Lufthansa is Germany and Europe's biggest airline, yet still manages to provide exceptional service. It operates services to 197 international destinations and also won Skytrax's prize for Best Transatlantic Airline and Best Airline in Western Europe.
10. Finnair — Finnair is Finland's flagship carrier and was founded in 1923, making it one of the oldest in the world. Finnair excelled when it came to the efficiency and punctuality of its fleet which, in 2015, transported over 10 million passengers.
9. Air Canada — Air Canada is the world's tenth largest passenger airline by fleet size and also won Global Traveler magazine's award for the best airline in North America for ten consecutive years.
8. Cathay Pacific Airways — The Hong Kong-based airline was given full points for its quality and service. Skytrax respondents also gave the airline high marks for seat comfort, service quality, and in-flight entertainment.
7. Air Baltic — Latvia's flag carrier is a low-cost carrier that operates only within Europe. It had the lowest score for quality and service of all the carriers in the top 14, but scored remarkably well for its claims processing and the number of flights that arrive on time.
6. Virgin Atlantic Airways — Richard Branson's transatlantic carrier scored pretty evenly across the board, putting it in a healthy sixth place. The British airline recently partnered with US airline Delta putting it in direct competition with the British Airways-American partnership.
5. KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines — Founded in 1919, The Netherlands' flagship carrier is the oldest in the world and is still going strong. Its 156-plane fleet has one of the best safety records and is extremely punctual, with 88% of all flights arriving and departing on time.
4. Singapore Airlines — Singapore Airlines was one of the few to earn full marks for its quality and service, but its poor turnaround time in processing complaints and payouts means its overall standing was damaged.
3. Austrian Airlines — Austrian Airlines is a subsidiary of Lufthansa and has weathered labour disputes in the past few years to retain its position towards the top of AirHelp's ranking. Its service is punctual, it offers first-rate service, and complaints and compensation are handled efficiently.
2. Air Dolomiti — Perhaps an surprising contender for second place, Air Dolomiti is one of Italy's regional airlines but is controlled by Lufthansa. The company's fleet is made up of just 10 planes but had the strongest 'on-time performance' score of any of the airlines in the top 14.
1. Qatar Airways — The best airline in the world according to AirHelp is the Doha-based Qatar Airways. It scored well across the board but earned top marks for its overall quality and service. The airline flies to over 125 destinations across the globe and is expanding to a further 50 new destinations.