If you’re a frequent British flyer, you have a vested interest in the quality of UK airlines – the better they are, the more pleasurable your travel experience. But are our airlines any good?
AirlineRatings.com just released its annual report on the best airlines in the world. It rates airlines based on a variety of quality factors, including customer ratings and punctuality. The better those metrics, the higher a particular carrier will rank.
The airline awards, however, weren’t particularly flattering to either UK or American airlines. Only one airline from the UK or Americas, the Richard Branson-led Virgin Atlantic which competes in the transatlantic market, ranked in the global top ten. Everyone else was conspicuously missing.
Who won overall?
The overall winner was Air New Zealand. Despite being relatively small, the airline has won the coveted Airline Ratings award for five years on the trot, thanks to its high review ratings, investment quality, product offerings, and profitability. New Zealand airlines, to the surprise of many, is the standard to which all carriers need to aspire, both in terms of customer service and business model.
Who won for customers?
While Air New Zealand was the overall winner, it didn’t dominate in all areas. The Airline Ratings cover 22 dimensions, each with a particular carrier coming out as the top dog. Since most people fly economy class, most customers are probably interested in who won “best economy.” That accolade went to Korean Air which offers wide seats with 33-34 inches of pitch.
Best cabin crew went to Singapore Airlines, a carrier that has always been associated with legendary in-flight service.
Best lounges went to Qantas Airways which Airline Ratings considered the benchmark for the entire industry.
And the best ultra-low-cost carrier award went to Vietnam’s ViewJet. The company enhances the country’s strong brand as a value destination.
Airline Ratings sorts the best low-cost airline by region. Westjet won the prize for lowest cost airline in the Americas, Norweigen scooped the award for Europe, and Scoot won in Asia-Pacific.
Where Are British Airways, Easyjet and RyanAir?
You may have noticed something in the above discussion: at no point did we mention either British Airways, RyanAir or Easyjet. British Airways made the cut in the report in 2017’s Airline Ratings but didn’t this year. Neither did RyanAir nor Easyjet. The reasons for this should be clear: the air carrier market is pivoting from west to east as the incomes of the average Asian traveller rise. Asian airlines are making swift improvements to their service to meet the needs of local markets. Some carriers, like Tianjin Airlines in China, have already been recognised by Airline Ratings for making substantial improvements to their services.
Should you listen to the pronouncements of Airline Ratings and start using exotic carriers? Yes, you probably should. The Airlines Rating system isn’t gimmicky: it’s based on actual performance data from airlines. We might love our favourite UK-based carriers, but we have to accept that there may be better airlines out there.