Qatar Airways named World's Best Airline in 2017 SKYTRAX Awards

Delta Air Lines becomes highest-ranked U.S. airline

Qatar Airways has received the honor of being named the World’s Best Airline in the 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, bestowing upon it the title of "World's Best" for six of the past eight years.

The results of the awards were announced June 20 at the International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport in metropolitan Paris.

“This is an award, not to me, not to my airline, but to my country,” H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said as he accepted the award.

Along with its fellow Persian Gulf carriers, Qatar has frequently topped the "Best of" list. In 2016, it was No. 2 only to Dubai-based Emirates.  Qatar was No. 1 in 2015 and 2014, No. 2 behind Emirates in 2013, No. 1 in 2012, 2011 and 2010.

Qatar was also awarded accolades for having the World's Best Business Class, Best First Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline in the Middle East.

World's Best Airlines
  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia
The rankings, presented by Skytrax, are the result of voting by nearly 20 million airline passengers from around the world who take part each year in what are described as "The Oscars of the aviation industry" and is the world’s largest airline passenger satisfaction survey.

“Skytrax World Airline Awards are coveted quality accolades for the world airline industry,” the organization said on its website. “The World Airline Awards are a global benchmark of airline excellence, and widely known as the Passengers Choice awards.” A total of 105 customer nationalities participated in the survey, which was conducted from August 2016 to May 2017.

A total of 320 airlines were featured in the survey. The complete World's Best list ranks the world's top 100 airlines and is available here.

The highest-ranked U.S. airline on that list was Atlanta-headquartered Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), which rose to No. 32 from No. 35 in 2016 and No. 45 in 2015.  It was followed by Seattle-headquartered Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), which moved up to No. 36 from No. 60 last year and was also voted No. 4 in the Best Regional Airline category. jetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) was the third ranked U.S. carrier at No. 39 overall.

Last year's top U.S. airline, Virgin America, dropped to No. 43 from the No. 25 slot last year. Virgin America was purchased by Alaska in a deal announced in early 2016 and consummated in December.

No-frills carrier Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) was voted fifth-best U.S. carrier, rising to No. 54 from No. 67 in the World's Top 100 Airlines. It was also voted No. 9 among the Best Low-Cost Airlines.

Dallas-headquartered American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) showed modest improvement, rising to No. 74 from No. 77 in 2016, while beleaguered United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) dropped 10 spots, to No. 78 from No. 68 last year.

Hawaiian Airlines (NYSE:HA) came in at No. 86 while American Eagle was the lowest-rated American carrier at No. 87.

At No. 29 on the World's Top 100 Airlines, Air Canada was also named Best Airline in North America. Its vacation and leisure subsidiary Air Canada Rouge made the list this year at No. 99; last year, it ranked No. 131, well short of the top 100.

Emirates Business Class seat with ICE controls
Emirates Business Class seat with ICE controls

While Emirates, which was last year's first-place carrier, slipped to fourth this year, its ICE entertainment system continued to occupy top spot as Best Inflight Entertainment. ice stands for Information, Communication and Entertainment. Emirates also won the award for Best First Class Comfort Amenities.

The survey also rates other aspects of air travel and grants global awards for Best Low-Cost Airlines, Best Airline Cabin Staff, Best Regional Airlines, Most Improved Airlines, Best Leisure Airlines, Best Airport Services, Best Airline Alliance, Best In-flight Entertainment, and Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness.

Best Low-Cost Airlines
  1. AirAsia
  2. Norwegian
  3. jetBlue Airways
  4. easyJet
  5. Virgin America
  6. Jetstar Airways
  7. AirAsiaX
  8. Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras
  9. Southwest Airlines 
  10. Indigo
Best "Long Haul" Low-Cost Airlines
  1. Norwegian
  2. Jetstar Airwars
  3. AirAsiaX
  4. Scoot
  5. Air Canada Rouge
Best Leisure Airlines
  1. Thomson Airways
  2. Air Transat
  3. TUIfly
  4. SunExpress
  5. Capital Airlines
  6. Thomas Cook Airlines
  7. Sunwing Airlines
  8. Nordwind Airlines
  9. Arkefly
  10. Jetairfly
Best Airline Cabin Staff
  1. Garuda Indonesia
  2. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  3. EVA Air
  4. Thai Airways
  5. Singapore Airlines
  6. Qatar Airways
  7. Asiana Airlines
  8. Japan Airlines
  9. Cathay Pacific
  10. Hainan Airlines
Most Improved Airlines
  1. Saudi Arabian Airlines
  2. Iberia
  3. Ryanair
  4. Ethiopian Airlines
  5. Philippine Airlines
  6. West Air
  7. Fiji Airlines
  8. Lufthansa
  9. China Airlines
  10. Hong Kong Airlines
Best Airport Services
  1. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  2. EVA Air
  3. Thai Airways
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. Lufthansa
  6. Japan Airlines
  7. Asiana Airlines
  8. Garuda Indonesia
  9. Qantas Airways
  10. Singapore Airlines 
Best Airline Alliance
  1. Star Alliance 
  2. oneworld Alliance
  3. SkyTeam Alliance 
Best In-flight Entertainment
  1. Emirates
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Turkish Airlines
  5. Virgin Atlantic
  6. Lufthansa
  7. Qantas Airways
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Delta Air Lines
  10. Thai Airways
Cleanest Aircraft Cabins
  1. EVA Air
  2. All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  3. Japan Airlines
  4. Asiana Airlines
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. Hainan Airlines
  7. Korean Air
  8. Qatar Airways
  9. Singapore Airlines
  10. Lufthansa
Best Regional Airlines
  1. Bangkok Airways 
  2. Hong Kong Airlines 
  3. Cathay Dragon 
  4. Alaska Airlines 
  5. Aegean Airlines 
  6. Avianca 
  7. Porter Airlines 
  8. SilkAir 
  9. Copa Airlines 
  10. Juneyao Airlines
Most Improved Airlines
  1. Saudi Arabian Airlines
  2. Iberia
  3. Ryanair
  4. Ethiopian Airlines
  5. Philippine Airlines
  6. West Air
  7. Fiji Airways
  8. Lufthansa
  9. China Airlines
  10. Hong Kong Airlines 
The survey also grants awards in other categories and subcategories.

Those categories include Best Airline by Region and Best Airline Staff by Region, which rank airlines and their staffs in 14 different regions of the world.

The category Best Airlines for First Class Travel rank the carriers overall as well as their first class lounges, seats, airline catering, lounge dining and first class amenities. Etihad was ranked Best First Class Airline overall, followed by Emirates, Lufthansa, Air France and and Singapore.

The top five airlines awarded Best Airlines in Business Class were Qatar, ANA All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa.

The top five airlines given accolades for Best in Premium Economy were Qatar, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Air France.

Finally, honors for airlines with the Best Economy class went to Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Singapore Airlines.

Full details are available on the Skytrax website.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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