SKYTRAX 2018 World Airline Awards: Who are the winners and losers?

Today in London, SKYTRAX held its annual World Airline Awards ceremony, which involves 20 million travellers voting on over 335 airlines across the globe, deciding which airline deserves titles ranging from ‘Best UK Leisure Airline’ to ‘Best Business Class’. Airlines often use SKYTRAX ratings as massive marketing tools, so it is important to know: who are the winners and losers of this year’s awards?

Winner 1: Singapore Airlines – wins ‘World’s Best Airline’

Taking the most prestigious award is the Singaporean carrier – SIA. The airline has won the ‘World’s Best Airline’ title three times previously, but not for over a decade, as airlines such as Qatar Airways and Emirates swept past them in terms of luxury and innovation.

The SKYTRAX CEO said a real ‘wow’ factor for Singapore Airlines was consistency and the airline scored highly in ‘product and service’. Singapore Airlines also won the separate titles for ‘Best Airline in Asia’, ‘Best First Class’ and ‘Best First Class Seat’.

Winner 2: China Southern – wins ‘Most Improved Airline’

The Guangzhou-based airline has won the ‘most improved’ award, an accolade Saudia won last year. This award goes a long way in determining the success of an airline and is a significant source of pride for the airline, as it jumps from 23rd to 14th in SKYTRAX’s 1-100 airline league table.

Loser 1: Etihad Airways – drops 7 places in airline league table

Etihad Airways has found itself plummeting in SKYTRAX’s 1-100 airline league table, from 8th place in 2017 to 15th place this year – behind the likes of China Southern, Swiss, Qantas and EVA Air.

Etihad Airways has recently announced a massive restructuring plan.

This comes amid a stringent restructuring of the airline and cost cutting measures (such as increased fees for seat assignments) in order to steer the airline through its financial woes.

Loser 2: US Airlines – no airlines from the USA picked up a headline award

No US airline has left with a major award from SKYTRAX this year, as Air Canada pick up the coveted ‘Best Airline in North America’ award, Air Transat take ‘World’s Best Leisure Airline’ and WestJet get the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline in North America’ title.

WestJet 737MAX cabin (Photo by WestJet)

American Airlines, United and Delta all took home a single award each for ‘Best North American First Class’, ‘Best North American Business Class Lounge’ and ‘Best North American Business Class seat’ respectively. No US Airline made the top 10 in the world.

From a UK perspective – TUI UK, British Airways and EasyJet are all winners

British Airways collected the award for ‘Best Cabin Crew in the UK’, despite Virgin Atlantic beating British Airways in the overall league tables. EasyJet was named the ‘UK’s Best Low-Cost carrier’, whilst TUI was voted the ‘UK’s Best Leisure Airline’.

British Airways was awarded ‘Best Cabin Crew in the UK’

Across Europe, Lufthansa was the only airline to make the top 10 (having recently been awarded the five-star ranking by SKYTRAX), Aegean retained its title as ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ and Air France won ‘Best First Class in Europe’ for its La Premiere product and several awards for their culinary excellence.

Aegean retained its title as ‘Best Regional Airline in Europe’ for yet another year.

Japan Airlines recieved a five-star rating from SKYTRAX

Whilst separate from the awards ceremony, it was also announced today that Japan Airlines has gained a five-star ranking putting it on a par with its Japanese counterpart All Nippon Airways, which already holds the five-star title.

JAL boasts spacious seats in Economy Class with some of the widest in the industry.

JAL becomes the 11th five-star airline around the world with this announcement, and I’m sure the ranking is one Raj would corroborate from his recent reviews of the airline’s Boeing 787 product.  

“Japan Airlines has worked extremely hard over the last 5-years to truly transform their product and service experience for customers. Without doubt, JAL are now delivering some of the best standards of inflight seating and IFE hardware, and this has been well paired with staff service quality that continues to increase in appeal for both the domestic and International markets.”

skytrax ceo on jal’s five-star ranking

Overall, SKYTRAX ratings provide a good idea of how airlines across the globe are performing on an annual basis, but airlines are allowed to promote voting for themselves so results can be skewed. Additionally, the five-star rankings are not decided by votes from the public – however I think that JAL thoroughly deserves the accolade, considering its 2-4-2 seating arrangement on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Economy Class and Apex Suites in Business Class.

What do you think about SKYTRAX’s 2018 Airline Awards?