SkyTrax 2021 Rankings: Qatar Airways Rated the World's Best Airline

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Qatar Airways Qsuites

SkyTrax Names Qatar Airways the Best Airline in the World for 2021

Qatar Airways is once again the best airline in the world, according to the Skytrax 2021 rankings.

Qatar is now a 6-time winner of the honor, including the last two awards dating back to 2019 – the awards were not given out in 2020.

Singapore Airlines, who won the distinction in 2018, finished second place in the 2021 rankings just ahead of #3 ANA (All Nippon Airways), #4 Emirates, and #5 Japan Airlines (JAL). Cathay Pacific Airways, EVA Air, Qantas Airways, Hainan Airways, and Air France rounded out the top 10.

Not familiar with Qatar Airways? Here’s our Review of Their Top-Ranked QSuites

Notably, Air France rose from #23 in the 2019 ranking to the number 10 spot for 2021. Dropping out of the top 10 was Lufthansa, which fell to 13 from the 9th spot.


Best Ranked U.S. Carriers

Delta Air Lines was the highest-ranked U.S. carrier at #30. Delta was 41st in the 2019 rankings.


skytrax 2021 rankings


Behind them at #32 was JetBlue Airways, which was the previously highest-ranked U.S. carrier in 2019 at #40.

Other notable domestic airlines in the top 100 are #39 Southwest Airlines, #60 United Airlines, #61 Alaska Airlines, #74 Hawaiian Airlines, #76 American Airlines, and #91 American Eagle. You can see the full list here.


Best Ranked by Cabin

When it comes to economy class, Japan Airlines was voted the best in the 2021 rankings. Japan Airlines also took the crown for best economy class seats. The airline has some of the most generous legroom and seat width you’ll find in economy on any airline.

JAL calls these “Sky Wider Economy” seats, and they live up to the name. At up to 19 inches wide, these seats are substantially wider than what airlines like American flies on many of the same routes, where you’ll get 16 inches to 17 inches of width. And when you are flying economy, every inch is critical.

How does the airline do it? JAL installs just eight seats in each row of economy on its Boeing 787s – while most airlines opted for nine-seat rows. That means much more space for every passenger.

Related Reading: Japan Airlines is the Best Way to Fly Economy to Asia


japan airlines economy
Japan Airlines (JAL) economy seats


Qatar, the overall winner, was just behind them at #2 with the usual suspects of #3 Singapore Airlines, #4 ANA (All Nippon Airways), and #5 Emirates.


Singapore Business Class Houston to Manchester


Delta Air Lines did not make the top 10 worldwide but was awarded the best economy class airline in North America. Certainly not a surprise for anybody familiar with the major U.S. airlines.

Delta also finished 10th in best premium economy class airline worldwide, with the #1 spot going to Virgin Atlantic.

Delta topped the world rankings for best premium economy class seats for its Premium Select seats.


Delta Premium Select Sale Europe
Delta Premium Select


When it comes to business class, voters agreed that Qatar Airways’ QSuites take the cake. Qatar earned the #1 spot in the world’s best business class airline for 2021. Singapore Airlines, ANA, and Emirates also finished in the top 5.


skytrax 2021 rankings


As far as business class lounges, Qatar’s Al Mourjan lounge in its Doha (DOH) hub also topped the worldwide rankings. Air Canada’s Toronto (YYZ) lounge finished second. Notably, United Airlines’ Polaris lounges in San Francisco (SFO) and Newark (EWR) also finished in the top 10.

Despite United’s lounge system, Delta Air Lines still won the best business class in North America for their incredible Delta One suites.


skytrax 2021 rankings


For those with finer tastes, Singapore Airlines was voted the best first-class airline of 2021 for its incredible first-class suites on board its Airbus A380 aircraft.


skytrax 2021 rankings
Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines


Lufthansa took the second spot on that list with Emirates, ANA, and Air France rounding out the top 5.


lufthansa f
Lufthansa first-class cabin


Lufthansa’s Frankfurt (FRA) first-class lounge took the top overall spot for best first-class airline lounge, followed by Qatar’s Al Safwa Lounge in Doha (DOH), Swiss Air Lines flagship lounge in Zurich (ZRH), Air France’s Paris (CDG) lounge, and ANA’s flagship lounge in Tokyo (HND).

Related: Business Class vs First Class: What’s the Difference?


Other Rankings

Here are a few of the other top-ranked airlines in various categories.

Best Cabin Staff – Singapore Airlines

Cleanest Airline Cabins – ANA All Nippon Airways

Best Low-Cost Airlines – AirAsia

Best Long Haul Low-Cost Airlines – Scoot

Most Improved Airlines – Saudi Arabian Airlines

Best Inflight Entertainment – Emirates


About SkyTrax

SkyTrax’s rankings are one of many in the travel world, so they’re certainly not definitive. The company says its rankings are the result of 23 months of customer satisfaction surveys (Sept. 2019 to July 2021). Notably, SkyTrax says the 2021 awards comprise a mix of more normal travel times combined with some travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about SkyTrax’s scoring methodology here.

There’s plenty of reason to doubt aspects of the SkyTrax rankings – and many do. SkyTrax is a big airline consulting firm, and many question whether their clients get preferential treatment in their award classifications. But at the end of the day, you won’t find much argument in the top slots of each category.


Bottom Line

If you can find your way onto a Qatar Airways flight, we highly recommend it. Voters in the Skytrax 2021 rankings agreed, leading the Doha-based carrier to top the ranking for the sixth time.


Lead Photo (CC BY 2.0):  Mark Harkin

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