Skytrax Revealed The Best In The 2017 World Airlines Awards

Qatar Airways A380

Skytrax announced the SKYTRAX 2017 World Airlines Awards winner at the Paris Air Show with Qatar Airways taking home the grand prize.



Almost 20 million surveys were conducted between August 2016 and May 2017 to determine the awards this year.  Of the 320 airlines eligible this year, here are the top 30 (complete list can be found here):

 2017  Ranking  2016  Ranking  Airline Name  IATA  Airline  Code  Type of  Airline  Cabins Offered  Alliance  Major  Hub  Airports   Region
 1  2  Qatar Airways  QR  Full  Service  First, Business, Economy  oneworld  DOH  Middle  East
 2  3  Singapore  Airlines  SQ  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  SIN  Asia /  Pacific
 3  5  ANA All Nippon  Airways  NH  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  NRT, HND  Asia /  Pacific
 4  1  Emirates  EK  Full  Service  First, Business, Economy  DXB  Middle  East
 5  4  Cathay Pacific  Airways  CX  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  oneworld  HKG  Asia /  Pacific
 6  8  EVA Air  BR  Full  Service  Business,  Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  TPE  Asia /  Pacific
 7  10  Lufthansa  LH  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  MUC, FRA  Europe
 8  6  Etihad Airways  EY  Full  Service  Residence, First, Business,  Economy  AUH  Middle  East
 9  12  Hainan Airlines  HU  Full  Service  Business, Economy  SkyTeam  HAK, PEK  Asia /  Pacific
 10  11  Garuda  Indonesia  U3  Full  Service  First, Business, Economy  SkyTeam  CGK  Asia /  Pacific
 11  13  Thai Airways  TG  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  BKK  Asia /  Pacific
 12  7  Turkish Airlines  TK  Full  Service  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  IST  Europe
 13  18  Virgin Australia  VA  Hybrid  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  SYD, MEL,  BNE  Asia /  Pacific
 14  15  Swiss  International Air  Lines  LX  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  GVA, ZRH  Europe
 15  9  Qantas Airways  QF  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  oneworld  SYD  Asia /  Pacific
 16  21  Japan Airlines  JL  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  oneworld  NRT  Asia /  Pacific
 17  19  Austrian  OS  Full  Service  Business, Economy  Star  Alliance  VIE  Europe
 18  14  Air France  AF  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  SkyTeam  CDG  Europe
 19  17  Air New Zealand  NZ  Full  Service  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  AKL  Asia /  Pacific
 20  16  Asiana Airlines  OZ  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  ICN  Asia /  Pacific
 21  20  Bangkok  Airways  PG  Full  Service  Business, Economy  BKK, CNX,  HKT  Asia /  Pacific
 22  24  KLM  KL  Full  Service  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  SkyTeam  AMS  Europe
 23  32  China Southern  CZ  Full    Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  SkyTeam  CAN, PEK  Asia /  Pacific
 24  29  Hong Kong  Airlines  HZ  Low Cost  Business, Economy  HKG  Asia /  Pacific
 25  27  Finnair  AY  Full  Service  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  oneworld  HEL  Europe
 26  23  AirAsia  QZ  Low Cost  Premium Economy,  Economy  KUL, BKI,  PEN  Asia /  Pacific
 27  22  Cathay Dragon  KA  Full  Service  First, Business, Economy  HKG  Asia /  Pacific
 28  30  Norwegian  DY  Low Cost  Premium Economy,  Economy  OSL, LGW  Europe
 29  31  Air Canada  AC  Full  Service  Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  Star  Alliance  YYZ, YUL,  YVR  Americas
 30  40  Aeroflot  SU  Full  Service  First, Business, Premium  Economy, Economy  SkyTeam  SVO  Europe


With three airlines joining the 2017 list, three dropped off from the chart. They included Virgin Atlantic (VS)(No. 28 -> 33), British Airways (BA) (26 -> 40) and Virgin America (VX) (25 -> 43). Depending on when the surveys were conducted, British Airways’ big drop may have been contributed by the information technology problems it experienced in May 2017 (News).


  • This is the second time Qatar Airways made number one in the past five years. The airline never left the top three during that time.
  • Aeroflot has made great strides over the past five years with the biggest leap into the top 30 (85 -> 51 -> 46 -> 40 > 30). The biggest ranking drop in the last five years from the top 30 is from Malaysian Airlines (14 -> 31).
  • Airline alliance members took 22 out of 30 placings with eleven Star Alliance airlines making the list
  • Most of the airlines are from the Asia / Pacific region (17 out of 30 placings). Only one is from the Americas (Air Canada).
    B787 International Business Class
    On Board Air Canada’s Boeing 787 – International Business Class       Source: Air Canada
  • Most of the airlines are classified as full service but Virgin Australia taking the highest place as a low cost carrier hybrid (i.e. low cost pricing model with some full service perks as add ons)
  • Premium Economy cabin is gaining grounds as 21 out of 30 airlines has it with Austrian soon to join the list (News)
    Boeing 777-200ER with Control Tower
    Austrian Boeing 777-200ER    Source: Austrian


Methodology Used

Customers are asked to fill in surveys (using a 1 to 5 scale) at airports, on board (may be requested in a voluntary basis by an airline) or online. Scores are weighted based on size of the airline and include the following items.

  • Airline website
  • Online booking
  • Online check-in
  • Baggage / carry-on policy
  • Airport ticketing
  • Check-in : waiting times
  • Check-in : service standards
  • Self Check-in
  • Pre-boarding procedures
  • Boarding efficiency
  • Airport staff: friendliness
  • Airport staff: efficiency
  • Airline Lounge : product facilities
  • Airline Lounge : staff efficiency
  • Airline Lounge : staff hospitality
  • Transfer services
  • Arrival services
  • Baggage Delivery
  • Seat comfort
  • Cabin cleanliness
  • Toilet cleanliness
  • Cabin lighting / ambience
  • Cabin temperatures
  • Cabin comfort & amenities
  • Reading materials
  • Airline magazine
  • IFE screen & interface
  • Choice of AV programming
  • On demand AV options
  • Cabin WiFi & connectivity
  • Quality of meals
  • Quantity of food
  • Selection of meals
  • Standard / choice of beverages
  • Selection of buy-onboard Food & Beverage
  • Prices of buy-onboard Food & Beverage
  • Boarding assistance
  • Service friendliness / hospitality
  • Service attentiveness / efficiency
  • Staff language skills
  • Meal service efficiency
  • Cabin presence thru flight
  • Cabin PA announcements
  • Cockpit PA information
  • Assisting families
  • Problem solving skills
  • Staff attitudes
  • Staff service consistency
  • Staff Grooming


How Can Airlines Use The Results?

Many airlines use the Skytrax survey as one of many tools to gauge their performance on the world’s stage.  Good results are likely used in marketing campaigns to entice potential first time or repeated customers in flying with the airline. Larger full service airlines typically suffer from this type of survey because they may have regional and long haul components offering big differences in amenities and service. In this case, the person flying in a wide body international first class may have a vastly different opinion than someone on board a regional single class flight. It is better for the airline to set up the right expectation so that customers would have an enjoyable experience regardless of the flight.

Many of the items in the Skytrax methodology can be managed through technology. Delta Air Lines, for example, is introducing new biometrics trials with goals to speed up boarding at its Atlanta and New York JFK hubs (News). The use of communication technologies such as Apple Messages and Facebook Messenger (News) will change how customers would be engaged as a way to reduce travel anxiety.  Mobile application design and deployment, which are not in Skytrax methodology, is playing a bigger role in how quickly and timely passengers are being serviced.


What Else Do Airlines Do To Obtain Feedback?

Some airlines take Skytrax ranking with a grain of salt as they believe the surveys does not provide consistent results, may be completed by untrained passengers who may be biased (based on culture practices or influenced by current news) or may not have enough experience to rank a product from 1 o 5 in comparison with others. Some airlines may deploy a secret shopping program to obtain more instant and quantifiable notes from trained personnel. Others include a feedback tool in the in flight entertainment to obtain feedback before the passenger arrives at the destination.

For more in depth analysis, airlines hire or conduct their own group discussions with frequent and casual flyers in major cities. This analysis can play an integral part for the airline to evaluate 1. current service levels and whether it is meeting internal metrics, 2. future product and service offering and 3. how change of service may affect the travel experience.


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