The Skytrax World Airline Awards were held in Paris today. While I place very little value on Skytrax ratings, these awards are given based on voting by the public, which I think is why they’re worth sharing.
Qatar Airways becomes Skytrax 2019 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 Qatar Airways for 2019.
This is the fifth time that Qatar Airways is winning this award. For context on what other airlines won the awards over the years:
- Qatar Airways won this award in 2017, 2015, 2012, and 2011
- Singapore Airlines won this award in 2018
- Emirates won this award in 2016 and 2013
- Cathay Pacific won this award in 2014
You can find the full listing of 2019 awards on this page. In addition to winning the world’s best airline award, Qatar Airways also won the award for world’s best business class, world’s best business class seat, and best airline in the Middle East.
Qsuites, Qatar Airways’ incredible business class
Here are the winners of the top 10 spots for 2019:
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- EVA Air
- Hainan Airlines
- Qantas Airways
- Thai Airways
Thai Airways also snagged a top 10 spot
Some other interesting winners:
- All Nippon Airways won award for world’s best airport services
- Air Transat won award for world’s best leisure airline
- Norwegian won award for world’s best low cost long haul airline
- Philippine Airlines won award for world’s most improved airline
- Bangkok Airways won award for world’s best regional airline
- Singapore Airlines won award for world’s best cabin staff
- EVA Air won award for world’s cleanest airline
- AirAsia won award for world’s best low cost carrier
Norwegian won the best long haul low cost airline award
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 (unlike how they give airlines their star ratings). The winners are based solely on public voting, with over 21 million survey entries being counted. The voting took place between September 2018 and May 2019.
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 (sample extracts 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 Qatar Airways business class,” and saying “I’ve flown a bunch of business class products and think Qatar Airways 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.
That being said, I do think Qatar Airways is worthy of this award, and I find them to be one of the top airlines in the world. For that matter, I actually think all the awards Qatar Airways won this year are warranted.
I do think some of the other top 10 airlines don’t really deserve to be on the list. For example, I never get why ANA ranks third while JAL doesn’t even break the top 10 (I think JAL is better in both first and business). I also think Qantas doesn’t deserve the spot they have, though I know they’re very popular with Australians. Lastly, as much as I love Thai, I don’t think they deserve to be a top 10 airline.
But that’s just my subjective take…
What do you make of the 2019 Skytrax results?