The List Of World’s 20 Best Airlines Is Silly, At Best

SkyTrax has named the 20 best airlines of 2022. Their top 4 world airlines are all greats, though we can quibble about the order. Qatar Airways, ANA, Singapore and Emirates are very good airlines. This new list is gaining a lot of traction and publicity, but dig a little deeper and it gets absurd.

  • There’s no universe in which Qantas is a top 5 world airline. They’ve been an operational mess coming out of the pandemic, with broad calls for the CEO’s resignation from prominent voices in Australia. And it wasn’t a top 10 world airline even before that.

    Qantas Airbus A380

  • China Southern and Hainan Airlines in the world’s top 15 carriers? With China’s lockdowns I wonder how Skytrax even claims to have assessed this. Maybe they’re hoping for benefit of the doubt because few outside the country have recent experience with them. But to list China Southern ahead of EVA Air and Cathay Pacific?

    Cathay Pacific First Class

  • For that matter, British Airways as number 11 – nearly cracking their world’s top 10 – ahead of EVA Air, Cathay Pacific, Delta (which gets ranked 24th) or Oman Air.

    EVA Air Business Class

There are other categories beyond best airline in the world. In order to give out lots of trophies they have a best low cost airline category in both the U.S. and North America (which includes the U.S.) and Southwest wins both though they aren’t really a low cost carrier.

Oddly United Airlines wins best business class lounge in North America, when there’s no question that Air Canada Signature Suites offer better dining than Polaris lounges.

Air Canada Signature Suite Vancouver

SkyTrax offers consulting services to airlines. They once gave Lufthansa a 5 star rating for announcing a new business class seat, even while describing the necessity of consistency across a fleet to do well in their rankings. I haven’t generally thought much of their announcements. This new list fails to shift my mental model.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. These lists are all generated to generate money. Take them with a grain of salt.

    Someone just named LAS one of the top non-hub airports and it’s one of the worst places I’ve flown into in the past year – yes, it’s better than it was and looks pretty, but service is horrible. Checked bags take forever, are announced at the wrong carousel, security line are still horrible, rental cars are a good distance away, etc.

    Makes you wonder who’s on the take…

  2. British Airways, what a joke. This summer they cancelled 10’s of thousands of flights and never provided an option. Many of their planes still have the 2X4X2 business class with those rear facing seats.

  3. Sky Trax consulted and the airlines told Sky Trax who was better…..
    over dinner, drinks and…..envelopes?

  4. Qantas is a laughing stock, affectionately known as Cuntass in Oz, the Irishmen still thinks it’s running Jetstar. How on earth does Skytrax keep any credibility when it rewards mediocrity, the CEO is not even an Australian, a sacrilege in Aussie terms, it used to be a powerful brand, now its a woke shadow of its former self, but then again, look at Australia now… Skytrax lacks any credibility and they should hang their woke heads in shame

  5. I agree Gary. BA on this list? Insane. BA cancelled my round trip flights from LAX to Cape Town and then offered the same seats on a different day for an additional 10k each. When they realized that did not sit well, I was offered different flights on the same day but with a 13 hour layover in Heathrow for an additional $890 per person.

    When I explained that I paid for these tickets ih full months back and thereby honored my end of the bargain, I was finally told that there would be no additioal charge, so long as I agreed to sit in coach. Mind you, I paid for business class given total flight time was 21 hours. Needless to say, I cancelled the trip. Based on how I was treated, I can assume many others like me have had the same experience. No way should an airline that disregards customer service and attempts to strong arm the public should be on this list.


  6. No Doubt, once you are on the Plane, they are the Best. But you still have to deal with The Contracted Employees at Check in in USA. Even the Business Class passengers are treated like Cattle. One of the worst are in SFO & LAX. the same people move from Qatar to other Airlines by just changing signs.

  7. Meh, Delta on any list is an absolute joke unless you live in Atlanta or love connecting there. Mileage program that is a joke, a PR program designed to make a Bellini service look like a true second drink service, and a subpar network vs.. EVERYONE.

  8. American is in something like 66th position, just two points below United, so they did get the relative positions right – about 40 points below Delta.
    Delta is the largest airline in NYC, Los Angeles, and Boston so the notion that Delta is just an Atlanta airline is far from accurate.

  9. Always the same broken record, criticizing other’s work without offering anything to the community.

    Where is your list?

  10. Oh Tim
    Ever the idiot
    United is the biggest in NYC
    The NEA is the biggest in Boston
    And delta is a construction joke in LAX, to say nothing of their subpar network vs oneworld
    Thanks for keeping us all laughing. So honored you follow my comments

    If only You had a job…I imagine you with a bag of Cheetos in a mobile home in rural Georgia just barely surviving

  11. Honestly, Tim. It’s like you don’t even know that mileage programs are where the money is and alliances that enable those mileage programs matter much more than your petty “there are three more flights on delta than aa in this obscure spot” nonsense.
    It’s little wonder you’re fired from delta sitting at your home trolling the internet.
    But, between work calls, you amuse me.

  12. Southwest is consistently the highest price from my town. Always amuses me when it’s still referred to as a low cost carrier. It’s all just built up marketing from them, going back at least 20 years. All the once a year flyers love it and don’t even check anything else.

  13. I agreed with all comments here. It is quite simple – Is SkyTrax now reliable as SkyTrax years ago? Seeing/hearing BA, DL, and UA shows that this ranking is worthless to read, believe.

  14. poor Max,
    (what kind of person would call themselves that anyway?)
    The NEA is not an airline.
    AA’s own execs have repeatedly said that AA’s future is domestic and feeding passengers to its partners.
    Even if all you looked at is the DOT’s air travel consumer report you could clearly see that Delta is considerably larger than American at LAX.

    and if you get as wound up about someone that you think got fired from Delta – which, of course makes no sense based on what I write – then you are the one that needs help. The amusement is mine readingy our reactions to fact.

    Denial is not a river in Egypt. You bet on the wrong horse. Move on.

  15. Does customer service count in ranking? I’d argue it probably should not. There are massive cultural differences in how to respond to cancellation and billing problems. I don’t have any problem with BA as a top 20 airline. One of the few truly global flight networks. Flying where I want to actually go is a big plus. Cabin crew is typically pleasant enough. Not the most consistent hard product and food is fine at best. The best airline, no. But serves a need pretty well. Think most of BA hate is from people that don’t like surcharges on redemptions. The cash prices, which is a more generalizable metric for value, are typically very competitive.

  16. Tim Dunn, those who have read your comments know that you write from a position of superior knowledge and understanding (even though some might disagree with you). I suspect MaxPower is yet another persona of the same troll we’ve come to know. The personality craves attention. Deny it. Don’t respond.

  17. For the record, in the 12 months ending 30 June 2022, the combined passenger traffic for JFK-LGA-EWR for each airline was:

    American – 14,380,816
    Delta – 24,649,191
    Jet Blue – 18,790,320
    United – 24,266,951
    Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airport Traffic Statistics

    Tim Dunn, I guess you were right. Hmmm.

  18. When I was working a long-haul international flight (as crew) we were thoroughly briefed before departure about a SkyTrax auditor travelling on the flight.

    The auditor was on board – and he slept for 90% of the flight……

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