The Skytrax 2017 Overall Winners: My Thoughts – Part 1

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Skytrax is one of the world’s most trusted rating systems, to the point where all airline standards are actually based off them. Each year, airlines win awards in a multitude of categories based on passenger reports. I don’t usually put much weight on Skytrax ratings when making airline choices, but I do find them somewhat indicative of the quality airlines put out in their products.

Skytrax unveiled their airline awards this afternoon in Paris, and I’m finding some of these awards…interesting. I’m going to go over the top ten of each category here, and I’m going to give some of my quick thoughts.

an airplane parked at an airportQatar Airways scored pretty big this year, for good reason that I will explain below

So, I’m going to start with the biggest categories, and slowly move down the list.

The Best Airline Of The Year

The top ten airlines of the year in 2017 went to:

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia

In spite of some of the ethical issues that I know Qatar Airways has, I do think that Qatar Airways is deserving of the “best airline” title. They fought back against the electronics ban, against the Qatari crisis with many other countries around the Gulf, and they’re still offering a good product on their flagship planes (and marketing them appropriately). I get that Qatar’s government ownership could put them at somewhat of an advantage, though they’re an all-around resilient airline and deserve their win.

I’m basing some of the other airline awards on the airline’s brand and identity, as I find that really important in an airline. Singapore Airlines has long had a rigid brand and while they’ve been bleeding money, product wise they’re inarguably one of the best in the market. I’m not a fan of ANA’s rather bland branding and their economy configurations are compact in most cases (much like Qatar’s, but Qatar usually tries to pimp out their planes), though I know that quite a few friends have had positive experiences on ANA, so I’ll leave them be. I’m also not too sure how Lufthansa made its way up the list, but I guess other passengers enjoy their flights on Lufthansa.

an airplane on the tarmacSingapore Airlines Boeing 777-200 Singapore Changi

Best Cabin Staff Of The Year

The best airline cabin staff of 2017 went to:

  1. Garuda Indonesia
  2. ANA All Nippon Airways
  3. EVA Air
  4. Thai Airways
  5. Singapore Airlines
  6. Qatar Airways
  7. Asiana Airlines
  8. Japan Airlines
  9. Cathay Pacific
  10. Hainan Airlines

I’ve been on Thai Airways, Singapore and Cathay Pacific out of the list, so I can’t really give an objective opinion here. Some of my best airline cabin staff experiences have been on these three airlines, so I’ll assume they’re credible in this regard.

IMG_6197Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

Best IFE Of The Year

The best inflight entertainment of 2017 went to:

  1. Emirates
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Turkish Airlines
  5. Virgin Atlantic
  6. Lufthansa
  7. Qantas Airways
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Delta Air Lines
  10. Thai Airways

While I know that Singapore, Virgin Atlantic and Thai have top notch entertainment systems (and have heard great things about Qatar’s as well), I’m not sure how Lufthansa’s lackluster entertainment system is any better than Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system, which didn’t even get a place in the top ten. I’m not even sure if Thai’s entertainment system is better than Cathay Pacific’s (though don’t get me wrong, Thai’s entertainment system is great). I know that I’m targeting airlines here, but that’s just because my experience with airlines is limited.

a screen shot of a deviceCathay Pacific’s entertainment system definitely trumps Lufthansa’s, if nothing else

Best Cabin Cleanliness Of The Year

The best airline cabin cleanliness of the year went to:

  1. EVA Air
  2. ANA All Nippon Airways
  3. Japan Airlines
  4. Asiana Airlines
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. Hainan Airlines
  7. Korean Air
  8. Qatar Airways
  9. Singapore Airlines
  10. Lufthansa

I won’t argue with these results, as I’m sure that this is based on net passenger experience. I’ll congratulate Cathay Pacific from improving since 2015, though. 😉

img_2574EVA Air won the best cabin cleanliness award, which I heard they deserve (the last time I flew with them was in 2013)

Best Low Cost Airlines Of The Year

The best low-cost airlines of the year went to:

  1. AirAsia
  2. Norwegian
  3. jetBlue Airways
  4. easyJet
  5. Virgin America
  6. Jetstar Airways
  7. AirAsiaX
  8. Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras
  9. Southwest Airlines
  10. Indigo

I haven’t had much experience with low-cost airlines, though I do know that Norweigan executes their longhaul flights flawlessly. I also know that JetBlue has a flawless product in both business and economy on regional flights. I’m surprised that people preferred the easyJet experience compared to Virgin America’s, but I haven’t flown either airline, so I won’t say anything about it.

a red and white airplane in the skyAirAsia won the best low-cost airline of the year

Best Regional Airlines Of The Year

The best regional airlines of 2017 went to:

  1. Bangkok Airways
  2. Hong Kong Airlines
  3. Cathay Dragon
  4. Alaska Airlines
  5. Aegean Airlines
  6. Avianca
  7. Porter Airlines
  8. SilkAir
  9. Copa Airlines
  10. Juneyao Airlines

This makes me really compelled to try Hong Kong Airlines’ product – I know that they have lie-flat business class seats (which primarily run regional flights), but Cathay Dragon has a really solid product in all classes (at least in business and economy, since I haven’t tried their first class). Bangkok Airways offers a really solid product, including hot meals in economy, so I’m glad that they got first place – though I can’t speak for the rest of the list.

img_2962Cathay Dragon scored below Hong Kong Airlines in the World’s Best Regional Airline category

Next Up

I’ll be covering the business class, premium economy and economy class winners separately. I don’t think I’d be able to add much value to the first class list, as I haven’t flown any first class products before.

These overall winners are interesting, to say the least, and I agree with a few of them. Overall, I’m seeing some surprising trends – notably Lufthansa’s surprising win in the IFE system, though the most surprising note was Hong Kong Airlines trumping Cathay Dragon in the regional airline category. As Hong Kong Airlines is expanding to quite a few longhaul destinations, I’m wondering if they can even be classified as a regional airline anymore.

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