World's best airline? Qatar pips the field as Qantas slips to 8th place

By David Flynn, June 26 2011
World's best airline? Qatar pips the field as Qantas slips to 8th place

Asian and middle-eastern airlines have scooped the pool in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards, with Qantas slipping down the ladder for the fourth year in a row.

That the Red Roo is still considered the world's eighth-best airline overall will no doubt be welcome news for Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and his team.

But the smiles will be twice as wide because Jetstar – which Joyce helmed from launch in 2003 and which he continues to hold up as an example of How Things Should Be when it comes to Qantas, especially in the international arena – was gonged as the best low-cost airline in the Australia-Pacific region.

(Admittedly there's not much competition, with the former Virgin Blue at second place and Tiger Airways running third.)

The surprise winner of the world's best airline award was Qatar Airways, which pipped a field of better-known brands including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates.

Skytrax is quick to defend this eyebrow-raising call, pointing out that the awards "are voted by over 18.8 million airline passengers from 100 different nationalities".

Cathay Pacific was voted as world’s best first class seat (shown above), followed by Etihad and Singapore Airlines.

The world’s best business class seats are found in an Oman Air plane, according to the Skytrax survey – and a glimpse at the photo above may help you guess why these outclassed the business-class benches of Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Air New Zealand’s innovative Space Seat was recognised as the world’s best premium economy seat (above), ahead of Turkish Airlines and Qantas’ Marc Newson-Recarro A380 designs. (See Australian Business Traveller's full review of the seats.)

British Airways got the nod as world’s best business class airline lounge for its BA Galleries Lounge at Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, edging out the hip Clubhouse of Heathrow neighbour Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific’s luxe lounge The Wing at Hong Kong Airport.

Emirates took home a trophy for best inflight entertainment, with Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific also on the winner’s podium.

The world’s finest first class in-flight catering is served up by Etihad Airways, according to Skytrax, with Singapore Airlines in second place and Qantas in third.

The World’s Best Airlines (according to Skytrax)

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Asiana Airlines
  4. Cathay Pacific Airways
  5. Thai Airways International
  6. Etihad Airways
  7. Air New Zealand
  8. Qantas Airways
  9. Turkish Airlines
  10. Emirates

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 362

On the Skytrax website it lists Virgin Australia as second place for the low cost carrier category - not "the former Virgin Blue" that you write here.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

That's correct. I chose to write DJ as "the former Virgin Blue" rather than "Virgin Australia" in acknowledgement of the fact that for the period of the Skytrax survey (on which the awards are based), the airline was Virgin Blue and was operating as a low-cost carrier - of course, since the recent rebranding as Virgin Australia the airline has left behind its purely low-cost carrier roots.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

The Etihad seat that came second is their newer suites product, not the old seats... Never actually seen/experienced it but the photos look fantastic:

And I'm surprised that QF manage to stick around in the top 10...


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

Just reread the article and realised the picture is Oman Air seats and not Etihad... Awkward - though for business class they look really fantastic!!

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

I find some results suspicious. Oman Air wins best Business Class and judging from the photo it looks amazing... But to believe that more people flew on Oman Air and voted for it above the likes of Singapore Airlines etc is a but if a stretch if you ask me. I'm also not convinced with the Qatar Air result but it was the Oman Air that really made me doubt the quality of the surveys.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 154

And looking at their ranking of the best first class lounges - to rank the Qantas first lounge below CX, BA ("first" or Concorde) or EK, I don't know what they are smoking.  I've been to four of the first lounges ranked higher than QF, and the only one which comes close is the Lufthansa first class terminal in Frankfurt.

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