Qatar Airways Wins Skytrax 2017 Airline Of The Year Award

Filed Under: Media, Qatar

Skytrax is generally the most widely recognized airline rating system, and airlines fight hard for Skytrax awards and ratings. Generally when an airline is recognized as a Skytrax 5-star airline, it’s a pretty big deal for them.


The Skytrax 2017 award results are in

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 2017. Qatar Airways has been named the world’s best airline for the fourth time since 2011 (they also won the award in 2011, 2012, and 2015). They took the title from Emirates, which won the world’s best airline award in 2013 and 2016, and Cathay Pacific, which won the award in 2014.

This is obviously a big win for them, especially in light of the situation in Qatar at the moment.

You can find the full listing of 2017 awards on this page. In addition to winning the world’s best airline award, Qatar Airways was also awarded the world’s best business class award, world’s best first class airline lounge award, and best airline in the Middle East award.

According to the survey results:

  • Air Canada is the best airline in North America
  • Etihad has the world’s best first class, world’s best first class seat, and world’s best first class onboard catering
  • Saudia is the world’s most improved airline
  • Garuda Indonesia has the world’s best cabin crew
  • Singapore Airlines has the world’s best business class seat
  • Thai Airways has the world’s best economy class

Saudia’s much improved first class product

Interestingly Air France and Cathay Pacific won nothing in any category (there are lots of other airlines that didn’t win anything, but those are two that stand out that I think should have won in some categories).

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 votes from nearly 20 million people from 105 countries being counted. The voting took place between August 2016 and May 2017.

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 Qatar Airways business class,” and saying I’ve flown a bunch of business class products and think Qatar Airways 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.

Maybe I should do a post with my thoughts on which airlines are the best in first & business class in all the categories I’m most familiar with.

Just to share a few thoughts on the results, I definitely agree that Garuda Indonesia has the world’s best cabin staff.

Awesome Garuda Indonesia cabin crew

I also agree that Qatar Airways has the world’s best business class, and that’s before the Qsuites are even in service.

Qatar Airways’ business class seat

I don’t agree that the Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge is the world’s best — the Air France First Class Lounge Paris is significantly better. On that note, I also think they need a separate category for the world’s best first class ground services, going beyond the actual lounge.

Qatar-Airways-Lounge-Doha - 12
Qatar Airways’ first class lounge

I also don’t agree that the Singapore Airlines business class seat is the best in the world, as I find it to be rather uncomfortable in bed mode.
Singapore-777-Business-Class - 5

Singapore’s business class

That award would instead have to go to an airline with a reverse herringbone seat, an Apex Suite, or Etihad’s new Business Studio.

Etihad’s business class

What do you make of the 2017 Skytrax results?

  1. This year’s top 10 is better than that of last year’s in my opinion. I still don’t understand why LH is still in the top 10 at all, as opposed to say JL or CI, but I’m actually glad QR came out on top. As for GA’s 4th win on the cabin crew award, I say well-deserved. They notice even the smallest of details that I may not even think of (like suggesting a different sweet fruit juice if your first choice isn’t available), and the story about the cabin crew who carried an elderly lady off the plane from the other day? That was fantastic, too

  2. @james. Lol. Best controversial airlines maybe.

    So Qatar Airways won again. No wonder UAE and Saudi Arabia declared no flight zones…

  3. Yeah I don’t get the Best Business Class seat being Singapore. Perplexing to me. Hell EVA is more comfortable and they give you PJ’s and better bubbles ;-)! Same with the Etihad first vote. Seems like a vote for style over substance. I now go out of my way to not fly Singapore in business as I find, even in a bulkhead, the seats in bed mode to be really uncomfortable and restrictive (I’m 6′). Kind of like sleeping on an army cot with all the metal bars poking thru and no mattress pad just that paper thin piece of material that serves no purpose other than cosmetic. Ditto Etihad. Hard bed. Cathay is way more comfortable in first as is I imagine Air France (never flown them in First but the pictures/reports look/sound amazing). Skytrax mostly seems like a way for angry people to have a forum to complain. Often based on a one off bad experience. It’s fine for a general option of how people view an airline, but as you point out it’s not a good way to decide whose first class or business class seat you want to fly.

  4. JAL should be in contention/should have won business class best seats on the market, great cabin crew, and good food.

  5. JAL always will be the best in my book. No one can top their service and attention to details. (I don’t know why ANA is a 5 star, but Jal is not.)

  6. ” I still don’t understand why LH is still in the top 10 at all, ”

    Ton of people reviewed it as good. IDK if they launched any vote campaign or not.
    But as European i can tell that LH is the best European carrier. And i mean it by it’s service and ground agents. I fly usually once in 2 months,and i’ve flown with most of European carriers (including Ryanair,etc,if that’s the only way to get to my destination) At least on short haul regional flights. I agree that their entertainment system on some Airbus planes are quite terrible on long haul flights,but it’s not what it makes the carrier great,it’s the flight attendants and airport agents.Although i have mostly flown coach and premium economy LH has never let me down.

  7. Agree with you on Singapore new J seat i didn’t really like it. Also cabin crew wasn’t smiling at all….

  8. I still can’t believe that ANA is a 5 star airline when JAL is 4 star. Both airlines are pretty good but JAL is above ANA when it comes to food and customer service.

    Especially, ANA gets 5 stars in “Typical inflight service efficiency”, where I would rate them as maybe 3 based on the flights I’ve had with them. Dinner was always rather slow and it always took them some time to clear up after passengers finish eating.

  9. You shouldn’t admire their methodology, since there isn’t any. They don’t even define what they mean by “airlines of different size”. There’s a self-selection bias as well as the marketing bias. “19.87 million eligible survey entries counted in the final results” – out of how many? Did they only count people who participated, thereby giving a false 100% response rate? If they wanted to be objective, they could, but they clearly don’t want to be. I don’t care about the results one way or the other, and neither should anyone other than an airline PR department.

  10. Oh goodie, QR outbid EK when it comes to offering Skytrax the highest bribe. Eh I mean the highest consulting fee of course.

    Skytrax business model can be described in a short sentence; Nice airlines you got there, shame if somebody were to write bad reviews about it.

  11. Can’t believe SIA made it 2nd, their service and products went down hill over the years as in cabin crew services, seats, food… I wrote a complain to them back in April when I flew their business class to Seoul. All I get was thank you for your feedback and they are sorry but will continue to try to do better, blah blah blah. Now they got 2nd, they will definitely not even try to do better, only thing they will continue to do better will be in the areas of cost cutting!
    There’s more airlines out there better than them, not just Qatar!

  12. @Quacky

    Honestly I prefer their Star Alliance buddies LX or OS because most of my experience with LH left a lot to be desired. Heck, I’d go so far as to favour Aer Lingus over LH.

    But yes if ground action is also taken to account, then they deserve some points for handling faulty airplanes and multiple prolonged strikes professionally.

  13. Skytrax is so heavily rigged. The fact that Allegiant Air scores 4 out 10 rating, and Spirit & Frontier Airlines score 3 out of 10 speaks volumes of their rating system. Based on customer reviews, these airlines should be getting a rating of 1 out of 10…on a good day.

  14. I don’t pay much attention to these particular ratings. As mentioned they’re not in any way objective, though they make it appear as they are authoritative. Especially after experiencing ANA’s poor product, there’s no way they can be relied on.

  15. “Maybe I should do a post with my thoughts on which airlines are the best in first & business class in all the categories I’m most familiar with.”

    Yes Please!

  16. Leave it to a Mid-East airline to display their awards showing the President and/or Sr. Management surrounded by female flight attendants. Keep the males hidden or back
    on the flights smoking in Business Class.

  17. Usually you would now mention how Qatar Airways is government funded and therefore can spend as much as they want to improve service to get the awards etc etc. You haven’t written a single post about their financial results and the fact that they’re making A pretty big profit year-on-year. It’s very hypocritical of you and honestly you should just be a man and except that you were wrong.

  18. Being a frequent flier of Cathay I am not surprised that they dropped in several categories. Service in economy is not among the best, not to talk about the food that is the most boring possible (same icecream again and again and again). But I am very surprised that they premium economy is not even in the top 10 while Air France is, with a seat that is not nearly as comfortable as Cathay’s one…

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