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This Is the World’s Best Airline for 2018

Skytrax is out with its annual list of the World’s Top 100 Airlines, perhaps the most recognized worldwide ranking of best airlines. As usual, and to the chagrin of travelers here in the states, most of the top performers are not U.S. airlines. Instead, the list is dominated by Asian, Middle Eastern, and, to a lesser extent, European carriers.

Skytrax winners for best airline are determined by survey results from travelers—20.36 million, to be exact, from over 100 countries. Respondents rate airlines on a 1-5 scale and assess aspects of their experience across both the airport and onboard environments. More than 330 airlines are included in the survey. Here’s the top 10, according to Skytrax.

The World’s Best Airlines for 2018

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

[st_related] The Best Airlines of 2018 According to J.D. Power [/st_related]

How Did U.S. Carriers Fare?

In short, not very well! Out of 100 airlines that made the cut, Delta finished highest … in 37th place. Alaska finished right behind it, followed by JetBlue at 42nd. Other U.S. carriers to make the list were Southwest at 57, American at 71, Hawaiian at 77, American Eagle at 79, and United at 88. Air Canada was the highest ranked North American airline, at 30th.

While the methodology is sound, the Skytrax results are usually lacking in detail. All we get is a list which, while helpful, offers no insight into what separates the airlines and by how much. Is Singapore significantly better than Thai, or significantly better than Delta? In the latter case, probably. But it would be helpful to know by how much. There is, however, a list of best airline superlatives.

One interesting detail to look at is these rankings’ year-to-year change. Delta fell from 32nd to 37th this year, for example, and most other U.S airlines on the list fell a few spots on the rankings as well. Nine of the overall top 10 were in the top 10 last year as well, albeit with some shuffling of the order.

Readers, how many of the world’s top airlines have you flown? What would be your top 5?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Japan. I'd love to take a month off and visit the cities, temples, and countryside. I'm fascinated by the country's juxtaposition of ancient traditions and modern ambitions."

Travel Motto: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” –Terry Pratchett

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Window."

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