Etihad Airways Loses Skytrax 5-Star Rating

Filed Under: Etihad

Personally I don’t put much weight into Skytrax ratings (they lost a lot of credibility when Lufthansa became a 5-star airline), but I nonetheless find this interesting. Skytrax gives airlines “star” ratings, and airlines often proudly promote these to consumers. I often disagree with their choices, though I don’t blame them for trying to promote their ratings.

Up until recently there were 11 Skytrax 5-star airlines. The last four to be awarded included:

  • Japan Airlines (which got the rating in July 2018)
  • Lufthansa (which got the rating in December 2017)
  • Etihad (which got the rating in October 2016)
  • EVA Air (which got the rating in June 2016)

Etihad’s interesting history with Skytrax

Etihad’s has quite a controversial history with Skytrax. In 2014 Etihad Airways withdrew from Skytrax. As they described it at the time:

The decision was made after Etihad Airways carried out a review of the criteria and measurement of the Skytrax Airline Rating System.

That didn’t last long, and in 2016 they rejoined, and suddenly they emerged as a Skytrax 5-star airline. So I guess they didn’t like the criteria, until the criteria meant they were the best. šŸ˜‰

I’d note that one of the primary ways that the Skytrax parent company makes money is by providing consulting services to airlines. While they claim there’s no correlation between the airlines they’re consulting for and the awards they issue, it does seem to me like there’s a conflict of interest there.

Etihad loses Skytrax 5-star rating

Well, that didn’t last long. Etihad Airways has lost their Skytrax 5-star rating, and is once again a Skytrax 4-star airline, leaving just 10 airlines in the 5-star spot. Etihad isĀ the only airline I can think of off the top of my head to have lost this ranking.

I don’t know when this happened, but I imagine it was recent. That’s because the page listing 5-star airlines still lists Etihad.

But when you click on that and go toĀ their individual page, it shows the updated ranking.

Why did Etihad lose Skytrax 5-star rating?

While they’re not saying so directly (and for that matter aren’t even making a point of highlighting that Etihad had lost this rating), here’s how Skytrax describes their rating system:

Star Ratings are awarded following detailed, professional analysis of an airlineā€™s quality standards by the audit office. A typical rating of standards is based on analysis of between 500 and 800 product and service delivery assessment items. This covers airport services at the airlineā€™s hub, and onboard standards across all applicable cabin / aircraft types.

Interestingly enough when Etihad got this award in late 2016 was around the same time that their extensive cost cutting and general decline started. So I’m not sure what the straw that broke the camel’s back was here, exactly, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable that they’d lose this.

Are you surprised to see Etihad losing their Skytrax 5-star rating?

(Tip of the hat to Ahmad & Phillip)

  1. I think Malaysia Airlines was once a 5 star Airline losing their rating I think in 2014 or 2015. Now apparently they are not rated. Skytrax ratings mean nothing to me, I have had better flights on numerous 4 star airlines like Swiss or Emirates compared to Lufthansa. Iā€™m guessing Etihad cost cutted whatever ā€œconsultingā€ Skytrax did for them and thus Skytrax demoted them.

  2. Also if you go to the Wikipedia page for Skytrax it lists all Skytrax 5 star airlines past and present. Apparently Ansett Australia, British Airways, Emirates, Kingfisher Airlines and Malaysia Airlines were all once 5 star airlines

  3. Some airlines are smarter than paying Skytrax for 5 *. Looks like Etihad has joined them.

  4. Just the fact that LH has a five star rating with that crappy Business Class says all I need to know. Ratings mean nothing!

  5. Another question. How can Garuda Indonesia continue to have a 5-star rating without an extensive first class (i.e., there is no F on routes other than DPS/CGK to HND/NRT)?

    But there is no doubt that GA, on that one route, offers among the finest and friendliest F service in the sky. It is difficult for even QR to beat.

  6. Compared to Singapore or Garuda, Etihad’s worth about four stars. Compared to Lufthansa, Etihad’s worth about sixteen.

  7. I think they deserve it because they removed seatback entertainment from short-haul planes.

  8. @Brian
    Just a reminder Lufthansa once flew a 9-hour Frankfurt-Pune flight on a domestically configured A319 with slimline seats, after their 5* rating.

  9. I guess someone stopped paying the “right” people. Skytrax lost all remaining credibility when it awarded Lufthansa five stars for a business class that will be fitted to planes from 2020 onwards, i.e. at least a year from now.

  10. As someone who flyies economy more frequently than I would like. I recognize that LH has great service in this area.
    Also, I might say that after some issues. I have always received better post flight customer services from LH that SIA. In the air there is o comparison, but I know if something is it as expected the German airline will respond well.

  11. @Lucky or anyone else reading this – do you have actual insights on how Skytrax rated Lufthansa in the different aspects? I read once that it was because of the 2020 business class, which would not make any sense to award 5* before the actual product is deployed.

  12. Oh Heathcliff, no Emirates but itā€™s roasting hot Asiana with no air vents and paltry economy Cathay?

  13. @Gary that’s exactly what I was thinking. Obviously they stopped paying the right people.

  14. Hi Ben.
    MALAYSIA AIRLINES also lose their 5 Star Ranking. You didn’t do your homework and research aren’t you.
    I’m not surprise at all that Etihad losing their 5 Star status.

  15. It might be an idea if this blog tried to get an interview or story with the skytrax management and let’s see them show their transparency. If they refuse then they should be ridiculed. Even the Oscars revamped when criticised.

  16. Skytrax ratings have always been a ridiculous garbage nonesense ā€“ are Hainan Airways still 5 Star? Havenā€™t flown with them since a horrendous flight from Paris CDG ā€“ some issue with the water so that there was only 1 functioning bathroom for the entire economy cabin, only Chinese food options available and no alcohol apart from Harbin beer despite the menu offering beef lasagne, Grey Goose, Johnnie Walker Black Label and many other tempting, but unavailable, delights.

  17. Currently in Singapore on RTW19 2.0. Flew two segments on Etihad in 1st. CMN -AUD ON DREAMLINER. Super service, seat & Plane – BIG windows
    AUH – SYD Apartment 4A. Same super service and space but A380 is my least favorite plane – small windows with huge space in between inside and outside
    Flew new Singapore Suites 3F and WOW. Very nice space and staff Great Krug 2004 – much preferred to Dom 2009
    So what, eh. I like Garyā€™s comment and others talking about payola
    My favorites in 1st. CX. JAL. LH (747-8i), Etihad, & Singapore
    I havenā€™t flown Qatar, Air France, or Qantas So more testing ahead

    Safe travels and

    Happy Motherā€™s Day to Benā€™s Mom and all Moms

  18. Obviously this is only rated for once you walk through the door onto an aircraft? It can’t possibly be for other services like On-Ground or Frequent Flyer program. Otherwise, poor old, broke Qatar would get about a 1 star. Bloody awful.

  19. Also spotted – Etihad’s average customer rating on Skytrax is 4/10, which I believe is a far cry from the the average customer rating of other 4* rated Airlines. Even Jet Airways has a higher customer rating…they’re 5/10.

  20. Hainan serves <$10 bottles of wine and Champaign, guess that's good for five star rating!

  21. I just think the ratings are not current. They seem to reflect what an airline did in the past or might do in the future. I think maybe Skytrax either base their ratings on out of date assessments or perhaps new consultancy about the future. Airlines do change. For example, I used to find LH and AC to be really excellent in business and pretty good in economy but they have gone down hill in the last 5 years.

    I also think because the ratings reflect multiple classes they become more meaningless. For example, Singapore a 5 Star airline is ridiculous to me. Their business, which is all I fly, is at best average and as their customer service is so poor and their legroom inadequate I avoid them like the plague , but of course others are praising them because their F is apparently good.

    In relation to this story, the only thing that surprises me about Ethiad is that they ever made 5 stars in the first place. I think the downgrade is fair. However, I can’t possibly agree with several of the air lines that remain on the list being considered 5 Star either.

  22. Pretty easy, Etihad’s cost cutting affected the money that was going Skytrax’s way, so they in turn reduced the star rating of the airline. Wise decision in my opinion if you are looking to save an airline and you have studies showing that the majority of people never pay attention to an airline’s rating.

  23. Yet despite the Beyond Abysmal experience BA retain 4* I lost faith in the star system over BA in 2017… The reviews on Skytrax are more revealing… That puts BA as a 2* which I think is a bit harsh but certainly no more inaccurate than 4*

  24. I flew Etihad round-trip JFK-AUH-JFK on an A380 a couple of weeks ago. Their airport lounges and check-in experience were great in both airports, especially AUH. Their Business Class product was comfortable and technologically up to the minute, with plenty of storage compartments. The food was good for airline food and was available to be served on demand, which I appreciated. I enjoyed the Business/First lounge on the plane and the flight crew was extremely courteous and professional. Sitting in the middle two, the pull-up privacy wall offered, well…more privacy. Both flights arrived early. The only thing missing were pajamas, which are no longer offered in Business. That was inconsequential to me because I never cared to change into pajamas while flying in Business. All in all, a great experience. Far superior to a recent long haul Cathay Pacific Business Class flight, who still have a Skytrax 5 Star rating (no PJ’s there either). Hmmm. What’s up with that!?

  25. @Lucky You should check out the new Youtube review of Etihad’s new economy class meals. It’s unbelievable. You get a 1 dish meal and a piece of bread ( Etihad call that a 2 course meal!) Everything else is now for purchase! You will laugh when you see what you get on a 16 hr LAX AUH flight!

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