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The 10 Best Airlines in the World & How to Fly Them

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Sometimes flying can feel like a slog – especially here in the U.S. where the flying experience seems to be a race to the bottom. But it isn't that way everywhere.

For some airlines, the flying experience is pleasant and maybe even nice. And on the airlines that cracked this year's top 10 airlines in the world ranking, they're actually making the flying experience better.

While not a perfect ranking, SkyTrax is widely considered the authority on ranking the world's airlines. Each year, it releases its top 100 airlines in the world and ranks each airline's economy, premium economy, business, and first class cabins plus details like airport lounges, airline alliances, cabin crews, cleanliness, and offers rankings of airlines by region and airline type (i.e. low-cost carriers and regional airlines, too.)

The results of SkyTrax's rankings often come as a surprise to U.S.-based travelers. That's because while Delta Air Lines is the number one airline in the North American region, it's not in the top 10 airlines in the world…and it's not even close. You have to go all the way to spot No. 20 to find Delta, and you have to go down another 29 spots find the next best U.S. carrier, United, at No. 49.

The best airlines in the world, according to SkyTrax, are all based in countries far, far away from the U.S., but that doesn't mean U.S. travelers can't fly them. It's quite the opposite! Over the last few months, we've sent at least one flight deal for all of the top 10 airlines in the world to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members – and for many of those airlines, it was way more than one deal, too.

Here's how to fly the best of the best.


1. Singapore Airlines

Hub: Singapore (SIN)

Other SkyTrax accolades: Best airline in Asia, Best First Class, Best Business Class in Asia, Best Premium Economy in Asia

Singapore Airlines vaulted past Qatar Airways to take the top spot on the podium in 2023. The massive Southeast Asian carrier offers high-end luxury, one of, if not the, fanciest airports in the world, and a vast network connecting travelers to every corner of the world.

To fly Singapore Airlines in the comfiest way possible, you'll want Air Canada points, which you can transfer from American ExpressCapital OneChase, or Bilt Rewards.


Singapore business class


This Singapore Airlines business class deal was a doozy. From all of Singapore's North American gateways, you could fly nonstop to Singapore (SIN) and onward to the rest of Southeast Asia in Singapore business class.


Singapore airlines


But you don't have to fly all the way up front to find some Singapore deals in your Thrifty Traveler Premium inbox.


Singapore premium economy


This Singapore Premium Economy flight deal included the world's two longest flights – New York (JFK) to SIN and Newark (EWR) to SIN. These flights don't even have regular economy seats, instead, even travelers all the back of plane get to fly in Singapore's Premium Economy seats.

If you want to really see if Singapore is truly the best airline in the world, fly 18.5 hours with them!


2. Qatar Airways

Hub: Doha (DOH)

Other SkyTrax accolades: Best airline in the Middle East, Best Business Class, Best Business Class Lounge,

For years, Qatar Airways held the top spot in the SkyTrax rankings, and while they were dethroned for the top spot last year, they still do all the same things that made them the best airline in the world.

Qatar Airways is still as good as ever. Its hub in Doha (DOH) is a beautiful, modern airport in the desert. It's home to some unbelievable lounges including the brand-new Al Mourjan Garden and the best lounge in the world: Al Safwa.

Qatar is best known for its QSuites Business Class, probably the best business class in the world – at least SkyTrax thinks so.




When we find QSuites space to book with points and miles, we always let our subscribers know, usually with a special text message alert we save for true “Unicorn Fares.”


QSuites info


And as you can see, Qatar's network is enormous. You can touch every corner of the globe with a single connection in Doha.

That includes Australia, where Qatar flies one of its fancy First Class seats.


Qatar First Class


This is an almost comically comfortable way to fly to Australia, even if you have to go halfway around the world to do it!


3. All Nippon Airways

Hub: Tokyo-Haneda (HND), Tokyo-Narita (NRT)

Other SkyTrax accolades: World's Best Airport Services, World's Cleanest Airline

Japan-based All Nippon Airways (or ANA) has also leveled up its premium cabins to the point where a few members of the Thrifty Traveler team think its “The Room” Business Class may have even taken the championship belt from QSuites!

ANA is a fantastic option for travelers looking to secure a comfy flight to Japan or onward to Asia. And with booking partners like Virgin Atlantic, you can book your way into luxury without breaking the piggy bank.


ANA The Suite


This ANA First Class deal was one to remember. A few members of our Thrifty Traveler team jumped on this one when we sent it out, using just 73,000 Virgin points to snag these seats called “The Suite.” You could transfer those points to Virgin from any of the major banks: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase, or Citi.


ANA The Suite


It was an outstanding value for possibly the best airplane seat flying right now. But if you wanted to slum it back in business class in “The Room” you only needed 45,000 Virgin points each way.


ANA the Room


I booked these exact seats to fly my wife and me to Japan earlier this year, and it was possibly the best flight of my life.


4. Emirates

Hub: Dubai (DXB)

Other SkyTrax accolades: World's Best Premium Economy seat

You've surely heard of Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier advertises thoroughly in the United States and showcases what is undoubtedly a luxury-focused brand.

Flying Emirates from the U.S. isn't that hard, with not only flights to Dubai (DXB) daily from numerous gateways, but also daily nonstops from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH).

On both of those so-called fifth freedom routes are dozens of swanky business class seats like this one.


Emirates business class


Just last week, we found two awesome ways to make these seats yours. For just 108,000 Emirates miles roundtrip, you could fly roundtrip to Europe – or 75,000 Qantas miles each way, too. Both currencies are transferable from Amex, Capital One, and Citi while you can also transfer Chase points to Emirates.


Emirates business class info


And if that's not enough for you, keep an extra 51,000 miles in your account to try and upgrade to Emirates First Class on one of the flights, too!


5. Japan Airlines

Hub: Tokyo-Haneda (HND)

Other SkyTrax accolades: World's Best Economy

Japan Airlines is probably the best airline in the world top-to-bottom, and that's because of its fantastic economy class.

We can vouch for SkyTrax's ranking of JAL's economy as the best in the world but don't sleep on its premium cabin offerings.


Japan Airlines business class


You can book these Japan Airlines business class for just 60,000 American Airlines miles each way and while the availability to do so is scattered, we search for it every day and let our subscribers know immediately as soon as we find it.


Japan Airlines business class info


But that's not all! JAL has just unveiled a brand new business class suite that you can also book at that same 60,000-mile rate. From the looks of it, it's a decadent seat flying to Japan.


New Japan Airlines business class


6. Turkish Airlines

Hub: Istanbul (IST)

Other SkyTrax accolades: Best Airline in Europe, Best Business Class Food, Best Economy Food

Turkish Airlines' calling card is the vastness of its network. Turkish flies everywhere, and that's part of what makes the airline so valuable to travelers worldwide.

But Turkish also has a slick business class seat that can take you to Istanbul (IST) or beyond any day of the year.


Turkish business class


Depending on the currency you use to book, these seats might only run you 63,000 points each way.


Turkish business class


Travelers might be surprised to learn that Turkish is the best airline in Europe, but when you add its brand-new airport in Istanbul (IST) to the mix, you've got one of the world's most connected and stylish airlines.


7. Air France

Hub: Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

Other SkyTrax accolades: Best First Class Lounge

Second behind Turkish for European airlines in the SkyTrax rankings is Air France. Delta's partner also has some stylish first and business class offerings. And like Turkish, Air France is well-connected for travelers looking to travel the world.


Air France business class


And the best part is you can book Air France business class seats to Europe from anywhere in the U.S. for just 50,000 Flying Blue miles each way. You can transfer points from Amex, Capital One, Chase, and more to Flying Blue, the loyalty program Air France shares with Dutch carrier KLM.

What's more, Air France routinely puts its economy seats on sale, too, leading to fares that look like this!


Air France economy


You can't beat a nonstop flight to Paris (CDG) on Air France, and booking the seventh-best airline in the world for just $549 is a real treat.


8. Cathay Pacific Airways

Hub: Hong Kong (HKG)

Other SkyTrax accolades: World's Best Inflight Entertainment

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific jumped eight spots in the 2023 rankings as its hub airport quickly reopened to connecting travelers over the last year.

What certainly helped secure Cathay's high ranking is its impressive business class.


Cathay Pacific business class


As you can see, that business class can take you pretty far! Whether you want to go to New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, or elsewhere, you can get there from the U.S. and Canada by flying Cathay.


Cathay Pacific business class


9. EVA Air

Hub: Taipei (TPE)

Other SkyTrax accolades: World's Best Premium Economy

Several members of the Thrifty Traveler team have flown EVA Air (pronounced E.V.A.) and frankly, they won't shut up about it.

EVA, a United partner, flies these lie-flat seats to and from its hub in Taipei (TPE), easily connecting onto other destinations throughout Asia.


EVA Airlines business class


Just 88,000 Air Canada points are enough to book these seats when they become available, even though that's not a common occurrence. About once or twice a year we see EVA award space open up for travelers based in the U.S., and when that happens, we alert our Thrifty Traveler Premium members so they can snag them before anyone else.


EVA Air business class


10. Korean Air

Hub: Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Other SkyTrax accolades: None

Rounding out the top 10 airlines in the world is Korean Air. The Delta partner airline has a similarly large network connecting to its Seoul (ICN) hub, but Korean Air deals are among the hardest to find for U.S. travelers.

There is still one tried and true way to snag a Korean Air flight: Virgin Atlantic.


Korean air flight deal


You can transfer your points to Virgin from just about any bank out there, and once you do, those points have some power. If you want to fly economy, you can book Korean Air flights through Virgin for just 51,000 points roundtrip from Honolulu (HNL) and 62,000 points roundtrip from the West Coast.


Korean air info


Bottom Line

You won't find any U.S. airlines among the top 10 of SkyTrax's annual world airline rankings, but that doesn't mean U.S.-based travelers can't fly the best of the best.

While it may seem like such luxury is out of reach, we've sent at least one flight deal for each of these airlines over the last few months, and we scour these routes and airlines every day in the hopes of sending more to our Thrifty Traveler Premium members this year and next.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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