World’s Best Airlines for 2021 named by

by Christine Forbes Smith
July 20, 2021
World's Best Airlines

The world’s best airlines for 2021 have been named by, the world’s only safety, product, and COVID rating website, and the airline of the year is Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based airline nudged out Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines for the top spot followed by Qantas, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific.

Qatar Airways is being honored for its innovation, product, and industry leadership as well as its extraordinary commitment to keeping the world’s critical long-haul air routes open during COVID-19. Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said “Airline Ratings’ Excellence awards are aptly named, for, at every touchpoint, excellence is the goal at Qatar Airways led by its inspirational Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker.

Qatar Airways

“Mr. Al Baker’s drive for perfection has led to many improvements in both Airbus and Boeing aircraft and travelers across the world are better off because of the drive and the pursuit of excellence of Qatar Airways.

“The airline has a host of industry firsts. First to complete IATA’s important IOSA safety audit, first to be fully COVID audited and compliant by both AirlineRatings and Skytrax, and amongst the first to trial IATA’s COVID Safe Travel Pass.

“Qatar Airways is no stranger to the winner’s circle having picked up many awards for its service and cabin seating over the past ten years including a host of awards from AirlineRatings for its catering and business class Qsuite,” Mr. Thomas said.

Qatar Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker said: “On behalf of all of us at Qatar Airways, thank you for this distinguished recognition as Airline of the Year for 2021.

“Receiving the Airline of the Year award for 2021 is particularly special for Qatar Airways. Over the past 16 months, we have witnessed some of the darkest days ever seen by the aviation industry. Yet, when so many other airlines stopped flying, Qatar Airways continued to operate and stand by our passengers.

“So, it goes without saying that receiving the Airline Ratings’ Airline of the Year award for 2021 is an honor that all of us at Qatar Airways will treasure as we find ourselves emerging from the global health crisis and progressing forward to new horizons and clearer skies ahead.”

The Airline Excellence Awards, judged by editors with over 100 years of industry experience, combines key safety criteria such as incident reports and government audits, with 11 key criteria that include: fleet age, passenger reviews, investment rating, product offerings, and staff relations.

Qatar Airways also took out Best Business Class and Best Catering. “The airline’s Qsuite is a first-class experience in business class. It leaves little to chance, and our judges rated it as one of the best overall business-class products they had seen. It sets a standard to which some airlines can only aspire,” said Mr. Thomas.

Air New Zealand was again another big winner in the Airline Excellence Awards taking out number 2 position in the Top Twenty Airlines rankings, Best Airline in the Pacific, Best Premium Economy, and Best Economy.

Air New Zealand punches way above its weight,” Mr. Thomas commented. “In so many ways it has set the standard for airline excellence over the past 15 years. Its Premium Economy is just superb and the benchmark in the industry and without doubt the best value in the sky.”

Air New Zealand

Singapore Airlines took out the prestigious First Class award for its impressive Suites product.

The six Suites in this stylish cabin at the front of the upper deck of the airline’s flagship Airbus A380s are designed to be the equivalent of small hotel rooms.

Singapore Airlines airline of the year award
Singapore Airlines’ award-winning Suites.

Australia’s Qantas won Best Domestic Airline Service and the coveted Best Lounges.

AirlineRatings Best Lounges goes to Qantas
Qantas Lounges

“The judges were unanimous on the airline’s lounges which are exceptional and its domestic airline product, particularly on transcontinental A330 flights, is a standout.”

Virgin Australia won Best Cabin Crew and Emirates was awarded Best Inflight Entertainment.

“Emirates was one of the pioneers of IFE, and one of the first to install seatback videos in economy. Today its IFE platform ICE is in a class of its own,” said Mr. Thomas.

VietJetAir took out Best Ultra Low-Cost airline for the third year running for its exceptional business model.

vietjet flight attendants
VietJet Air cabin crew

Qantaslink won Best Regional Airline for its outstanding work in the remote Australian outback.

Excellence in Long Haul travel was awarded to: United Airlines (Americas), Lufthansa (Europe), Qatar Airways (Middle-East/Africa), Singapore Airlines (Asia) and Air New Zealand (Pacific).

Best Low-Cost Airlines are: Southwest (Americas), easyjet (Europe) and Jetstar (Asia/Pacific).

Top Twenty Airlines 2021 also named its Best of the Best: Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, EVA Air, British Airways, Lufthansa, ANA, Finnair, Japan Air Lines, KLM, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines, and Etihad Airways.





  1. Dear Vince, WAY better than anything in the US and Canada and in NZ no business class. Best Geoffrey Thomas Editor-in-Chief
  2. I agree with much of the assessment this year, with the exception of United Airlines. While their Polaris business class product is excellent for long-haul flights, with rare exceptions I've found that it's consistently let down by sour, unhappy flight attendants who's bad attitude spoils an otherwise good experience.