As it does annually, AirlineRatings.com has announced its list of the world’s best airlines for 2021. This, of course, doesn’t mean that these are the world’s best airlines or that there aren’t many other superb carriers, as that is a totally subjective determination, but the website’s editors have conferred internally, as well as taken in the opinions of its readers to comprise their list for this year.
The airline website considers inflight service, safety (thank goodness), and passenger comfort as primary factors in naming their winners. To make the top-20, each airline must also receive a seven-star safety rating from the website. How each airline has reacted to and worked through the covid-19 crisis is another determinant for this year.
Given that the airline industry has been turned upside down by the pandemic, perhaps more-so than any other business category, I was actually surprised to see that the website didn’t pass on naming their top 20 for this year. Given that inflight service was either totally discontinued or drastically reduced, I don’t see how it can be rated for 2020 or 2021.
Also, to be considered before regarding this listing as the absolute guide to the best airlines is the fact that AirlineRatings.com accepts advertising from airlines, casting a bit of a shadow on the impartiality of the ratings. This is not the Consumer Reports of airline ratings. However, best of anything lists can be rather entertaining and interesting, so here is the overall 2021 list:
- Qatar Airways
- Air New Zealand
- Singapore Airlines
- Qantas (Australia)
- Emirates (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
- Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
- Virgin Atlantic (Great Britain)
- United Airlines
- EVA Air (Evergreen Airways, Taiwan)
- British Airways (Great Britain)
- Lufthansa (Germany)
- ANA (All Nippon Airways, Japan)
- Finnair (Finland)
- Japan Air LInes
- KLM (Netherlands)
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Virgin Australia
- Delta Air Lines
- Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
Other categories that AirlineRatings.com rates annually include best first class service, best business class service, best inflight food, best cabin crew, best low-cost airlines (Southwest, Frontier, jetBlue, Sun Country, etc.), as well as best low-cost airlines Asia-Pacific.
As any air traveler will tell you, all it takes is a single bad experience with a particular carrier to alter your opinion of them. To me, operate on or close to schedule, offer a reasonable boarding experience, give me adequate legroom, and fly me safely to my destination, and I’ll praise you to high heaven.