When it comes to international travel, American carriers are not considered elite by travelers.
Skytrax announced the 2018 World Airline Awards, and Singapore Airlines carrier came out on top — beating out Middle East carriers Qatar Airways and Emirates. No U.S. carrier was on the top 10 list.
Skytrax’s rankings are based on customer satisfaction — over 100 customers from different nationalities participated in the study from August 2017 to May 2018. Overall, 20.36 million people were asked about 335 airlines.
The top 10:
- Singapore Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- EVA Air
- Cathay Pacific
- Hainan Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- Thai Airways
One expert said that the list didn’t tell the whole story.
“With consumer-voted awards like these, there’s always a combination of reality and perception involved, and perception is often based on history,” Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly and the author of Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9/11 Era, told Yahoo Finance.
“I’d be surprised if anyone flying between the U.S. and Europe today would say Lufthansa is clearly nicer than, say, Delta or even American, whose business-class product provides the all-aisle access that frequent business travelers complain Lufthansa lacks.”
Alaska Airlines (overall #38)
- Best Regional Airline in North America
- Best Airline Staff in North America
- Best Cabin Crew in the USA
American Airlines (overall #71)
- Best First Class in North America
Delta Air Lines (overall #37 — the highest for an American carrier)
- Best Business Class Seat in North America
Kaplan points out that while “Delta was a terrible airline to fly a decade ago, those experiences are still in the minds of travelers, especially those who don’t fly all of these airlines frequently enough to be able to make a meaningful comparison.”
More generally, “U.S. airlines are in some ways still catching up in terms of the ‘soft product’ experience — onboard customer service and so forth, which can be great but less consistently so than on some airlines around the world,” Kaplan said.
“But it’s difficult to believe anyone doing a blind test, so to speak, today wouldn’t include at least Delta among the top 10.”