World's 'Best' Airlines -- Do You Care?
This year's "Airline of the Year" is Asiana, says the latest award list from Skytrax. And no line based in either
The top 10 airlines are Asiana,
Most of you, however, would find these more specific results to be of greater interest:
-- Top North American airlines:
-- Top transatlantic lines: Virgin Atlantic,
-- Top transpacific lines: Cathay Pacific,
-- Best economy class:
-- Best premium economy:
-- Best economy cabin catering: Turkish, Etihad, and
-- Best economy seats: Kingfisher, Asiana, and
-- Best premium economy seats:
-- Top low-cost lines:
-- Best "staff service" among North American lines: WestJet, Virgin America, and
-- Top low-cost lines in
Check www.worldairlineawards.com for all the other awards.
For the most part, I can't argue with -- or even comment on -- the survey's overall results, given that I've flown on only four of the top 10 lines, some of them decades ago. The only award I question seriously is Virgin America as the top low-cost North American line: To me, JetBlue has a superior product.
In addition to these recent awards, Skytrax maintains an ongoing database on airlines it rates from one to five stars. As you might suspect, all six five-star lines are Asian/Middle Eastern. The four-star group includes most other big
Why do the Asian and Middle Eastern consistently get such high scores? I suggest three reasons:
-- Just about any airline provides better service on its long-haul routes than on short trips, and a much higher portion of travelers on Asian and Middle Eastern lines fly long hauls, as compared with airlines based in
-- My guess is that a disproportionate number of Skytrax's survey responses came from male travelers, who presumably favor the sort of deferential treatment they receive from female attendants on Asian and Middle Eastern lines. My wife considers the treatment she's observed on some of those lines to be "sexist," a view with which you may or may not agree.
-- A disproportionate number of responses appear to be from business-class travelers, and these lines emphasize their lavish business class products.
Even given the survey's probable bias toward predominantly long-haul lines, however, just about all the anecdotal evidence I can find suggests that service levels on most U.S. line are currently pretty poor by world standards. Most of my world-traveler friends tell me they fly a U.S. line only if it's much cheaper or has a much better schedule than a foreign competitor.
And that's why you may not find these results useful. Most of you select an airline based on some combination of schedule and price, plus -- maybe -- frequent-flyer considerations. Relative survey rankings may enter the picture, at best, as tiebreakers, and more often not at all. Still, you might as well consider these results when you can -- it couldn't hurt.
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