Singapore Airlines Wins Skytrax 2018 Airline Of The Year Award

Filed Under: Singapore

The Skytrax World Airline Awards were held in London today. Earlier I posted about how Japan Airlines was named the latest Skytrax 5-Star airline. This is separate from the actual awards ceremony — the World Airline Awards are based on public voting, while Skytrax 5-Star ratings are based on… well, we don’t know, and we should be skeptical.

So generally I’m much more interested in how the public votes than what Skytrax decides on.

Singapore Airlines becomes Skytrax 2018 airline of the year 

Today Skytrax published their annual ratings, where airlines are awarded titles ranging from world’s best airline to world’s best cabin staff, to world’s best business class.

The most prestigious award is the world’s best airline award, and that’s going to Singapore Airlines for 2018. This is a pretty significant development, as Singapore Airlines hasn’t won this award in a decade:

  • Qatar Airways won this award in 2017, 2015, 2012, and 2011
  • Emirates won this award in 2016 and 2013
  • Cathay Pacific won this award in 2014

Singapore Airlines won this award three times before, in 2004, 2007, and 2008. I think that’s not too surprising, because I think Singapore Airlines was incredibly innovative one to two decades ago, while I think they’ve largely been resting on their laurels ever since.

You can find the full listing of 2018 awards on this page. In addition to winning the world’s best airline award, Singapore Airlines was also awarded the world’s best first class, best first class seat, best first class lounge in Asia, best business class lounge in Asia, best first class in Asia, best business class in Asia, and best premium economy in Asia.

According to the survey results:

  • Air Canada is the best airline in North America (they won this award last year as well)
  • Air France has the world’s best first class onboard catering (Etihad won this award last year)
  • China Southern is the world’s most improved airline (Saudia won this award last year)
  • Garuda Indonesia has the world’s best cabin crew (they won this award last year as well)
  • Qatar Airways has the world’s best business class seat (Singapore Airlines won this award last year)
  • Thai Airways has the world’s best economy class (they won this award last year as well)

How are Skytrax winners decided?

I disagree with a lot of the results, though I respect the methodology that Skytrax uses for determining the winners. The winners are based solely on public voting, with over 20 million survey entries from 100 countries being counted. The voting took place between August 2017 and May 2018.

Airlines were allowed to promote voting, so I suspect there’s a high correlation between the airlines that tried to “get out the vote,” and those that actually won.

To account for the different sizes of airlines, they also take a weighted approach to the results:

Customers nominated their favourite airline or airline they considered to be best, and ranked their satisfaction (1 to 5 scale) for aspects of the travel experience (see below), across both the airport and onboard environments. Data weighting was applied to provide equity when evaluating airlines of different size. Any weighting uses passenger numbers for airlines featured in the Survey.

What do I make of the results?

At the end of the day this is a marketing opportunity for airlines, rather than an actual comparative analysis of which airline is the best in each category. People vote based on what they like, with no requirement to actually have experienced any number of products. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fine, ultimately this is a popularity contest, but I think it’s important to recognize it as such.

There’s a difference between someone saying “I liked Singapore Airlines business class,” and saying “I’ve flown a bunch of business class products and think Singapore Airlines has the best.” So perhaps more accurately these awards should be for the title of “the world’s favorite” rather than “the world’s best.”

On top of that, even if everyone had experienced every product, it’s still highly subjective. For example, you could have a very different experience depending on the crew you have, depending on whether you’re departing from the carrier’s hub or an outstation, depending on the time of day of the flight, etc.

Overall I think Singapore Airlines is a solid airline, though some of these rankings leave me scratching my head. The best business class lounge in Asia for their SilverKris Lounge at Changi Airport? No way.

Singapore Airlines Business Class Lounge

I suspect Singapore Airlines got a large halo effect here from having recently introduced new products on the A380. The new cabins look beautiful, though they disappointed me a bit. Singapore’s new business class is good, though it’s more evolutionary than revolutionary. The fact that they have a double bed in business class now is nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that the seat is hard as a rock, and you have to sleep at an angle.

Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

I really wanted to love Singapore’s new Suites. It’s a gorgeous product, easily the most beautiful in the sky. It’s also the most spacious first class product in the sky. But unfortunately I feel like they wasted a lot of space with the new cabin, and they missed the mark. The bed isn’t actually comfortable, and the seating position while dining is awkward.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

That being said, Singapore Airlines continues to have an excellent soft product, with great food and drinks, and some of the best service in the sky.

What do you make of the 2018 Skytrax results?

  1. Not to mention the catering on SQ has dropped precipitously. I had better food in DL economy from London to the states that my most recent biz class meals on SQ.

  2. Ugh Skytrax…

    I definitely do not think this award is well deserved. Yes, their new Suites may be “innovative”, but they are only for 6 passengers on a handful of planes. Their business class experience is far from perfect. As you said, the lounges in Changi aren’t the best, which I agree with. When I was there a few weeks ago, they were overcrowded and dirty. Also, the lack of an amenity kit, the restrictive seat, and more, make the #PaxEx experience not great. Let’s not forget that a lot of their aircraft still have the same exact, non-refurbished, business class seats that they had 10 years ago.

  3. I loved SQs “old” suites when I had the fortune to try them recently. As corny as it sounds it was a really magical experience.

    I would rather fly them again than try their new product. I think they were smart to “rest on their laurels” – if it ain’t broke dont fix it. Even if that means on losing out to some worthless skytrax award.

  4. “I disagree with a lot of the results, though I respect the methodology that Skytrax uses for determining the winners. The winners are based solely on public voting, with over 20 million survey entries from 100 countries being counted. The voting took place between August 2017 and May 2018.”

    i’m laughing so hard at this. Who has actually seen what a skytrax ballot or survey looks like at all ??

  5. Air Canada #1 in North America must be the biggest joke of this thing.
    Execs must have been stuffing the ballott box hard this year again.

  6. There are some pretty laughable awards there:

    KLM has the “best business class seat in Europe”? I thought Lufthansa’s imaginary business class seat was so good it qualified them for 5* status – so how can KLM’s 2-2-2 product be better?

    And lovely Air New Zealand wins a prize for, er, “Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in Australia/Pacific”??

    I’d rather see awards for most spacious lavatories; provision of air nozzles; % of total widebody fleet with direct aisle access in J; etc…

  7. I agree here with Lucky. If they are true to their methodology, this award and the star-buying should be different and treated separately.

    But as all voting system is, you sometimes get results that doesn’t seem to resonate with a lot of people. Sometimes good PR, marketing, showmanship, being center of attention, promise what voters want can win you votes (hello Mr.45). However, if you revamp the system even with same votes, the results can change.
    So YES, I strongly believe that the Skytrax voting system is rigged in a way that their highest paying client wins the vote.
    I mean look at some of the awards.

    Best Cabin Crew in Spain
    Aegean Airlines
    Best Cabin Crew in Southern Europe

    Last I remember Spain IS IN Southern Europe

    Then comes awards by country, some has only 1 title, some has few more.
    Best Leisure Airline in Italy
    Best Low-Cost Airline in Indonesia / Best Cabin Crew in Indonesia
    Best Cabin Crew in Germany / Best Leisure Airline in Germany / Best Low-Cost Airline in Germany
    I get that Indonesia might not have a Leisure airline but no cabin crew in Italy!!!!!!!!!!

    Now what about CX!!!! Hmm, I’m OK with counting them in some other region or part of China. But to tell me CX has not ONE single thing better than their Asia/China counterpart is pure BS.
    Everyone knows Hainan pays $$$$$$$$ to Skytrax, but to not give anything to a really good airline that deserves it is absurd.

    Skytrax never claims to be independent nor disclose affiliate commission/compensation.

    Skytrax is owned by money hungry people. This site is for entertainment purposes only. The owner of this site is not an survey organizer, award planner, nor airline service auditor and product here are of an opinion and general nature and should not be relied upon for airline quality or competencies.

    Advertiser Disclosure: Airlines and other products reviews from Skytrax has paid compensation. This compensation DOES impact how and where products appear on the star ranking. This compensation DOES NOT impact how actual products appear on the airline. The site does not include airlines who didn’t pay us. Please view our advertising policy page for additional details about our partners.

    Rant over, I should be a blogger now.

  8. Wow, Cathay really have not been paying their Skytrax dues recently! Not a sausage. Singapore taking best First Class Lounge over them is pretty laughable.

  9. Amex fans, Centurion lounges claim 3 spots in top 10 World’s Best Independent Airport Lounges 2018.

    #2 Centurion Lounge – New York La Guardia
    #4 Centurion Lounge – Dallas Ft Worth Airport
    #9 Centurion Lounge – Las Vegas Airport

  10. In my humble opinion, I’ve always found Singapore service to be extremely lacking, and, at times, downright rude. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my experience, but compared to JAL, TG or even QR, I’d say they’re far off.

  11. I’m simply amazed! JAL was simply awful on my recent flight from KUL-NRT with what seemed to be more like a crew under training in Business Class than anything else. The food was ordinary too. Comparing JAL to CX or SQ is like comparing night with day!

  12. SQ is the most overhyped airline ever. Their business class is one of the worst I’ve ever tried to sleep in and they’re inconsistent as hell. There’s the 2007 Biz Seat, the 777 Regional 2-2-2 Biz seat, the remainder of the super old SpaceBed seats, the 2013 updated biz seat, the A380 new updated biz seat, the 787 regional flat biz seat. It’s ridiculous.
    Also they use some of their most rundown old 777-200s on up to 11hr flights (e.g. SIN-IST), which really is a disgrace. Their food quality is all over the place as is the service quality (try Premium Economy if you really wanna be treated as being ‘not good enough for business’).
    Their lounges in Singapore are the worst I’ve seen from any 5star airline. Food is always half eaten and really low on choices. The lounge is dark, has no windows and is loud. The people working there are the least caring I’ve yet to encounter.
    They’re not a HORRIBLE airline, but 5 star they are not and ‘the best of the best’ is a joke. Please.

  13. Skytrax results are, as often, awkward! SIA biz lounge at Changi is certainly NOT the best in Asia… Even the Private Room is not the best First Class lounge in Asia. As you mentioned SIA been resting on their Laurels. I often dislike the attitude crew on the flight and catering is not what is used to be! So price is still increasing. I prefer EVA Air and QATAR, even if Al Bakr is not the type of person i would spend an evening with!

  14. Am glad you flagged the SQ Business Lounge – was such a disappointment after trying their new seats from SYD-SIN! Surely any Cathay Lounge is superior

  15. Some of them are accurate and some of them are not as Qantas being voted best business class in Australia/Pacific while they have a good business class especially on the A330 and 787 its not much compared to Virgin Australia and there reverse herringbone seats, great amenities and fantastic crew. I think this is because Qantas is much bigger than VA and gets more votes. So yes I agree wit you lucky should be called worlds favourite airline awards.

  16. I was expecting DL or B6 for best airline in North America, but nope, it’s AC again (sigh)… I’m assuming AC got “best airline in north america” from their highly dense planes, right 😉 ?

  17. Singapore’s new back breaking angled business class seat together with no individual air nozzles on their hot cabins must make them serious contenders for the most uncomfortable business class in the air.

  18. “I really wanted to love Singapore’s new Suites. It’s a gorgeous product, easily the most beautiful in the sky. ” – I disagree, the new first class looks like a dentists office, Emirate’s First Class is easily the most beautiful in the sky. 😉

  19. Up in the air, SQ business class service & seats (A350 & 777300ER) are amongst the best. But it really disappoints when it comes to ground services & lounges. Besides Champagne in Changi, nothing else stands out. The recently introduced “live” station is a joke. SQ management should learn from Qantas lounge in Changi T1, CX business class lounge in Hkg etc. Please go visit your KLIA lounge & tell us what you think. Design of the flagship Changi lounges are plain boring, toilets are well, just toilets. The private room offers great service but has mediocre food, is boring, sterile & too quiet. The new A380 first class bed strapped me in like a prisoner, very uncomfortable. I hope SQ won’t be blinded by all these “Best” awards & continue to rest on their laurels cos what they did the past to make them legendary can easily be replicated. Let’s not forget the rabbit and tortoise story….

  20. Also ROFL at SQ getting “Best business class lounge”… I even like DL Skyclubs more than the SQ SilverKris lounge SIN

    OZ used to be the world’s most overrated airline imo, now it’s SQ

  21. Colin – I agree about the Singapore Airlines crew attitude . I find them abrupt , not so much rude .It seems to be a rather arrogant attitude. This attitude prevails a lot in Singapore, may be this is a Singaporeans character ? The food is usually good and I like Singapore as a transit airport .

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