Singapore Airlines reclaimed the top spot in the annual SkyTrax airline rankings for 2023 released this week, dethroning Qatar Airways as the world's best airline for the first time since 2019. And there's also a new #1 low-cost carrier in North America … with a familiar name to many Minnesotans.
With its luxurious first class suites, renowned service from first class to economy, and now free inflight Wi-Fi for all customers, it's not a huge surprise to see Singapore back on top after three straight years coming second to Qatar Airways – the airline last won the distinction in 2018. Other renowned airlines including All Nippon Airways (ANA), Emirates, and Japan Airlines (JAL) rounded out the top five spots. Turkish Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, and Korean Air all placed in the top 10.
Delta was the only U.S.-based carrier to crack the top 20, also earning the distinction of top North American airline. And for the first time, Minnesota's tiny budget airline Sun Country was recognized as the best low-cost carrier in North America.
While airlines celebrate and publicize these SkyTrax rankings, you should take them with a grain of salt. The company doesn't provide much detail on its methodology for picking winners – plus, it's a major consulting firm for the same airlines it ranks, leading to concern that its high-paying clients get a boost in the final results.
Still, who doesn't love a good list? And we can hardly argue with the first few positions on this year's leaderboard. Just keep all that in mind as you scan through SkyTrax's full list of the top 100 airlines for 2023.
- The Top 10 Airlines in 2023
- Sun Country Named Best Low-Cost Carrier in North America
- Best Ranked U.S. Carriers
- Best Ranked by Cabin
- About SkyTrax
The Top 10 Airlines in 2023
While there's plenty of reason to doubt SkyTrax, there's no question that the top 10 airlines in 2023 are some of the best airlines in the world.
Here's how the top 10 shook out in the 2023 SkyTrax rankings.
- Singapore Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Japan Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- Air France
- Cathay Pacific
- EVA Air
- Korean Air
Sun Country Named Best Low-Cost Carrier in North America
For the first time, Sun Country was named the best low-cost airline in the U.S. and North America in the 2023 SkyTrax rankings – a big win for the airline that has taken heat from travelers over its rapid transformation from beloved hometown airline to an ultra-low cost carrier.
The accolade isn't a huge surprise, though. The Twin Cities-based airline has been on a tear since going public, adding more routes to it's network and going head-to-head with the likes of Delta for cost-conscious travelers at its Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) hub.
“We are honored to be recognized for the value and on-board experience we provide our customers,” said Dave Davis, President and Chief Financial Officer, Sun Country Airlines, said in accepting the award. “Our focus on the leisure traveler allows us to offer flights when demand is strongest, and our business model keeps fares affordable.”
Sun Country beat Southwest, Air Canada Rouge, Spirit, and Frontier to take the top spot. The airline also came in seventh in the world for low-cost carriers in SkyTrax rankings.
Best Ranked U.S. Carriers
Delta Air Lines was SkyTrax's highest-ranked U.S. carrier at #20. That's a slight improvement: Delta was 24th in the 2022 rankings.
Behind them at #49 in the overall rankings was United Airlines, which came in at #60 last year. Other notable domestic airlines in the SkyTrax top 100 are Alaska Airlines at #52, JetBlue at #55, Sun Country at #59, Southwest at #60, American Airlines at #82, and Hawaiian Airlines at #85.
After coming in at #35 in 2022, Southwest fell considerably in the overall rankings this year, likely due to the airline's historic meltdown this past winter that disrupted millions of passengers' holiday plans. Hawaiian and American, too, tumbled from #65 and #68, respectively, in 2022.
Relative newcomer and low-cost airline Breeze Airways was the only other U.S.-based carrier to make the list, coming in at #97.
You can see the full list here
Best Ranked by Cabin
World's Best Economy Class: Japan Airlines (JAL)
When it comes to economy class, Japan Airlines (JAL) takes the top spot – edging out both Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. JAL stole the crown of SkyTrax's best economy overall from Emirates, which was voted the world's best economy class in the 2022 rankings.
Japan Airlines also kept the top spot for the seat itself thanks to more generous legroom and seat width than you'll find on any other airline.
JAL calls these seats the “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.
World's Best Premium Economy Class: EVA Air
EVA Air might be best known for its Hello Kitty planes, but it took the top spot in the SkyTrax rankings for the world's best premium economy.
Delta took the ratings shop's top spot for premium economy among North American airlines and also finished fifth in best premium economy class worldwide, up from 10th in 2022.
That's for the entire Premium Economy experience, though. For the seats themselves, Emirates took SkyTrax's top ranking for premium economy seats for the second year in a row. The airline first claimed the top spot in 2022 after it launched a brand new seat that includes new seats with 40 inches of legroom, wider seats, and extra bells and whistles like dedicated leg rests, larger entertainment screens, and more.
World's Best Business Class: Qatar Airways
When it comes to business class, SkyTrax once again came to the same conclusion we did: Qatar Airways' QSuites take the cake as the world's best.
Read more: Qatar Qsuites Still Stands Above the Rest
World's Best Business Class Lounge: Qatar
They've got the best business class seat and the best business class lounge, too.
Qatar's Al Mourjan lounge in its Doha (DOH) hub took the top spot from SkyTrax this year.
Air France's business class lounge in Paris (CDG), Singapore Airlines' business class lounge in Singapore (SIN), the United Polaris Lounge in Houston (IAH), and the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow (LHR) round out the top five.
World's Best First Class: Singapore Airlines
For those with finer tastes, Singapore Airlines was voted SkyTrax's best first-class airline of 2023 for its incredible first-class suites onboard its Airbus A380 aircraft. This is the third straight year Singapore has won the award.
Air France took the second spot on that list with ANA (All Nippon Airways), SWISS, and Emirates First Class rounding out the top five.
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 online customer satisfaction surveys collected over nine months (September 2022 to May 2023). 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.
Singapore Airlines is back on top of the SkyTrax rankings as the #1 airline in the world, edging out Qatar Airways for the first time in years.
As for U.S.-based carriers, Delta remains #1 and for the first time, Sun Country took the top spot as the best low-cost carrier in North America.
Check out the full list of award winners in the SkyTrax 2023 rankings.