Discover the top international airlines of 2023 and find the best airline for your next trip 🥇🥈🥉
When planning an international trip, selecting the right airline is essential for ensuring a smooth, enjoyable journey. Skytrax and AirlineRatings recently released their 2023 rankings on international carriers based on service, safety, amenities, and overall passenger experience. This year, Singapore Airlines claimed the #1 spot from perennial champion Qatar Airways, while Air New Zealand and Alaska Airlines topped lists for safety. Read on for more details on the leading global airlines to fly in 2023 across these key categories.
The Best International Airlines for Service, Amenities and Passenger Experience
After coming in 2nd place for the past three years, Singapore Airlines finally claimed the coveted #1 airline title from Qatar Airways in Skytrax’s 2023 awards. Singapore excelled across the board with outstanding cabin service, spacious seating even in economy, upgraded amenities likes onboard wifi, and exemplary cuisine.
As their country’s flag carrier, Singapore Airlines operates one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry. Their Airbus A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners provide extra comfort on long routes. From their hub at the renowned Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines provides connecting service to over 60 international destinations in more than 30 countries across six continents.
In addition to superb service, Singapore Airlines continues to invest in enhancing the overall passenger experience. All travelers can enjoy an extensive in-flight entertainment system with thousands of options. Singapore Airlines also offers greater leg room and comfort like premium economy on key long-haul routes.
With its excellent dining, renowned service culture, modern planes and consistent quality across all classes, Singapore Airlines has cemented its status as 2023’s top global airline.
Dubai-based Emirates held onto its runner-up position from 2022 as the second-best international airline overall. Emirates differentiates itself with over-the-top luxury in first and business class through amenities like private suites, cocktail lounges and even onboard showers. The airline accentuated its reputation for refinement and service excellence through the pandemic.
Emirates also deserves credit for strong performance in economy class. All travelers can enjoy regionally-inspired meals, a huge library of entertainment options, and friendly service from their international cabin crew. Emirates connects passengers to over 120 global destinations on modern aircraft like the iconic Airbus 380 and fuel-efficient Boeing 777s.
For those seeking both refinement and global reach, Emirates remains a consistent, aspirational choice to consider.
ANA (All Nippon Airways)
Claiming the #3 spot, Japan’s ANA excels in economy class service along with cleanliness and operational excellence. ANA stood out this year by earning Skytrax’s coveted “World’s Cleanest Airline” award.
As Japan’s largest airline, ANA connects over 50 domestic airports and operates key international routes across Asia, Europe and the Americas. They have leveraged their reputation for diligent precision and award-winning hospitality to become a leader in Covid-era airline safety.
After four years holding the #1 global airline spot, Qatar Airways fell to 4th place in 2023 according to Skytrax’s survey. However, Qatar still earned accolades for its industry-leading Qsuite business class which offers fully-flat beds and adjustable privacy partitions.
From their base in Doha, Qatar Airways flies to over 150 destinations on modern, fuel-efficient aircraft. Fliers gave them high marks for dining, amenities and their excellent hub airport. By balancing luxury offerings with quality economy class, Qatar remains a leader.
Representing European carriers in the Top 5, Air France offered strong premium economy products on both long-haul and intra-Europe flights. Over the past few years, the Paris-based airline invested in showcasing updated offerings across all cabin classes.
Air France also benefited from its joint ventures and partnerships with KLM and Delta. This allowed them to provide expanded connectivity and reciprocal elite status perks. Air France flies to nearly 200 destinations in 93 countries.
Other Top International Airlines
Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air and Japan Airlines rounded out the Top 10 international airlines for overall passenger experience.
Further down the list, Copa Airlines (#11) was hailed for its industry-leading punctuality and quality connections through its Panama City hub. Delta Air Lines (#20) was the only U.S. airline listed in Skytrax’s Top 20 thanks to renovated cabins and dining upgrades.
The Top International Airlines for Safety
While service and comfort capture headlines, safety remains paramount in aviation. AirlineRatings evaluated 405 major carriers this year based on crash records, incident data, operational excellence and other factors to identify the Top 20 safest airlines.
- Air New Zealand
- Etihad Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Alaska Airlines
- EVA Air
- Virgin Australia/Atlantic
It comes as no surprise that several airlines overlapped with the Skytrax rankings for high service levels. Qatar and Singapore paired strong safety performances with reputations for luxury and quality to emerge as premier global carriers.
Of the group, Air New Zealand captured the top safety honors for 2023. As the Kiwi flag carrier with a strong homeland reputation, Air New Zealand properly balances financial success and operating discipline without cutting corners.
Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines ranked as the top U.S. airline for safety this year. Their all-Boeing fleet and outstanding training programs demonstrate an enduring commitment. Other U.S. global carriers like Delta, American and United also have excellent safety track records.
The Best Low-Cost International Airlines
For budget-minded travelers, Norwegian Air and WestJet ranked well for offering good service and extras beyond bare-bones basic economy. Norwegian connects Europe and North America using fuel-efficient Dreamliner aircraft, while retaining appealing amenities in coach like premium economy seats. WestJet also flies Boeing 787s and 737s on select U.S. and European routes with reasonable surcharge-free fares.
In Europe and Asia, ultra low-cost carriers (ULCCs) like Ryanair, easyJet, Air Asia, and Cebu Pacific let travelers fly on the cheap. However, most nickel-and-dime passengers with extra fees adding up for bags, seat assignments, onboard food and more. Travelers must come prepared when flying these no-frills airlines.
Choosing the Best Airlines for Long Flights and Global Travel
Frequent international travelers praised Singapore Airlines and Emirates for long haul flights exceeding 14+ hours. Their modern twin-engine wide-bodies like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner are specifically designed for comfort on extended trips.
These aircraft feature higher humidity levels, advanced air filtration, lower cabin altitude, less noise, reduced jet lag and special gaspers with soothing scents. Airlines invest in luxury accommodations on nonstop routes spanning over half a day of flight time.
Also important is the breadth of the airline’s route network and partnerships. Carriers like United, Delta and American Airlines leverage global alignments like Star Alliance and SkyTeam to connect passengers to hundreds of destinations. However, their overall service lags behind Asian and Middle East mega-carriers when traveling abroad.
Finding an Airline That Matches Your Needs and Budget
With the world reopening for travel, international airlines are again competing fiercely for passenger loyalty. As the industry rebounds, airlines like Singapore have doubled down on service and safety cultures to rise up the ranks. They aim to attract new customers through major investments matching premium luxury with budget economy.
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Travelers have terrific options to choose from that offer comfort, hospitality and global connectivity. Do your research to identify the airline that best aligns with your budget and priorities – whether pampering perks or getting the lowest base fares. Avoid unpleasant surprises by understanding exactly what is and isn’t included with your ticket.
And most importantly – happy travels and safe skies as you embark on your international journey!