World’s Best Airlines for 2016

December 01, 2015 the world’s only safety and product rating website has announced the selection of Air New Zealand as its Airline of the Year for 2016. celebrates and promotes excellence in the airline industry and the pinnacle of these efforts is its Airline Excellence Awards. Winners include: Qantas, Cathay Pacific Airways, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia,, Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, Norwegian, Scoot, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.

Airline of the Year

Air New Zealand is being honored for the third consecutive year for its continuous passenger innovations, environmental commitment, record-breaking financial performance, operational safety and motivation of its staff that have cemented the airline an industry trendsetter.

The editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, also awarded the airline Best Premium Economy Class and Best Economy Class.’s editorial team took special note of Air New Zealand’s comprehensive long haul offering which has two multi-award winning products in the Skycouch and Spaceseat for economy passengers.

“Air New Zealand’s focus on its staff has resulted in outstanding performance right across the airline at every touch point,” said Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.

“The innovation at Air New Zealand continues to dazzle and the airline has rolled out some stunning new technology including innovative tracking of unaccompanied children and a wonderful App to get you a prefect cup of coffee before your flight.”

“Put simply Air New Zealand remains the industry leader and a textbook case of what an airline should be in today’s intensely competitive market.”

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the airline is thrilled to receive the prestigious accolade three years in a row.

“Air New Zealand’s 75th anniversary year has been outstanding. Customer satisfaction has lifted even higher, we’ve delivered another record annual financial result, the brand is in terrific health and we’re growing the business. But none of this would be possible without the contribution of our 10,500 employees globally who turn up every day with the most fantastic attitude and the passion for making Air New Zealand a truly great company.”

Read our in flight review for Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy and Economy class cabins. 

Best First Class
This award has been won by relative newcomer Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways which has shaken the industry with its First Class offerings.

Etihad has the best first class

“Etihad’s commitment to excellence appears to know no bounds. The airline’s new First Class and Business Class offerings are quite stunning and have set the bar even higher in luxury travel,” said Mr Thomas.

“In what is an incredible achievement in just over 12 years Etihad Airways has stamped itself not only as a major force in the airline industry but a trendsetter.”

See inside Etihad's exclusive First Class cabin

Best Business Class
Singapore Airlines has won Best Business Class and the award adds to a string of accolades the airline has won for its product offerings over the years.

SInagpore airlines wins word's best business class award

According to Mr. Thomas, Singapore Airlines’ revamped business class is really impressive. “It’s subtle, elegant, functional and very cozy,” said Mr. Thomas. “The airline has always listened to its customers and it shows again and again.”

Read more about Singapore Airlines Business Class offerings here.

Best Premium Economy
Air New Zealand has won Best Premium Economy for the third year running for its innovation in designing its own premium economy seat.

The airline is continually innovating in all cabins and this has resulted in higher yields as passengers upgrade their travel experience with value propositions.

“Air New Zealand has again proven conclusively that passengers will pay more if the product is right and priced accordingly,” said Mr. Thomas.

Read more about Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy offering here.

Best Economy
Air New Zealand continues as a standout in delivering economy passenger options to match their budget. Its standard offering is excellent and if customers want to spend a little extra there are great options like the award winning Skycouch, which is perfect for a parent and two children.

air newzealand economy skycouch

Designed by Air New Zealand it offers passengers loads of options and has been an outstanding success. Passengers also get wined and dined with Air New Zealand’s famous in-flight service and can pass the time connected to the airline’s state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system.

Read more about Air New Zealand’s Economy offering here.

Who are the Top Ten international airlines?

Best Low Cost Airlines
There is no question that the Low Cost Airline market is the most competitive and also the most rapidly growing. Thus competition to be the best is a challenge of balancing product with low prices. winners are: Virgin America (The Americas), Scoot (Asia/Pacific), (Middle-East/Africa) and Norwegian (Europe).

The four airlines are standouts in their respective markets with clever innovations and they consistently deliver an excellent value proposition. “These airlines may not always offer the lowest fare but what they always do is deliver the best value,” said Mr. Thomas. These airlines open new routes and make travel fun and achievable for millions who could previously not afford to fly.

Read our on-board reviews for the Scoot dreamliner, Norwegian 737-800 and Virgin America A320.

Best Lounges
Qantas’ lounges continue to be a standout in this space and the airline has again won this category for a feature that has become as important as in-flight product to many discerning travellers.

Qantas has the world's best lounges

“The Qantas domestic lounge has become an Australian air travel institution and the airline’s international offerings are also exceptional with new lounges in Hong Kong and Los Angeles raising the bar,” said Mr. Thomas.

Qantas Lounges not only provide complimentary food and beverages the airline was a leader in installing showers several decades ago. Importantly the airline’s lounges have robust broadband internet access that can handle demand – something lacking in many other airlines’ lounges.

Best Catering
Another win for Qantas for the second year in a row. Its commitment not only to first class dining, but particularly to economy travel which makes up 90 per cent of passengers is well ahead of the pack.

The airline has introduced an unprecedented four choices of main meal for economy passengers, a doubling in the size of meals, and the ability to order online ahead of the flight.

“Qantas’s catering commitment to both its domestic and international passengers continues to be industry leading,” said Mr. Thomas

“Our editors are very impressed by the airline’s economy offering which makes Qantas a clear winner in this category.”

Best In-Flight Entertainment
Singapore Airlines wins Best IFE award. The airline has an IFE product that few other airlines match.

Singapore airlines has the best in flight entertainment

Singapore Airlines was a pioneer with IFE, particularly for economy class. In the early 1990s all the airline’s seats were fitted with IFE, which the airline calls KrisWorld.

Now the airline is rolling out its Next Gen IFE which has a host of new features including: the ability to multi-task among the varied entertainment options; personalization where the system recommends content based on passengers’ preferences; 1,000 on-demand entertainment options and the ability to rate movies and see how others have rated these.

The new system bristles with features and gives Singapore Airlines Airline Best IFE award for 2016.

Best Domestic Class
In an era where domestic offerings are becoming leaner and leaner Qantas’s domestic product is a global standout and in many cases matches or exceeds others’ international product.

“There is no question Australians are the world’s most spoilt passengers with full meal service on all flights across its network,” said Mr. Thomas.

The airline offers complimentary beer and wine between capital cities after 4pm on weekdays and on transcontinental flights from lunchtime daily.

Qantas has recently introduced lie-flat suites for business class passengers on its A330 flights, which operate most transcontinental services.

Qantas has the best domestic in the world

Read more about Qantas's domestic service here.

Best New World Carrier
In its second year the Best New World Carrier award acknowledges an airline that makes game changing initiatives to redefine travel and meet ever-changing passenger demands.

Virgin Australia has again won this award for its achievement of morphing from Australia’s low fare pioneer as Virgin Blue to an airline that blends low cost efficiencies, passion and enthusiasm with a truly first class product. Indeed a New World Carrier.

“The airline has taken what matters to passengers and given it a touch of luxury and the result is stunning,” said Mr. Thomas.

For more on Virgin Australia

Best Cabin Crew
And for the second year running the Best Cabin Crew, award has also been won by Virgin Australia along with partner airline Virgin Atlantic.

“Both airlines’ cabin crew treat every passenger whether in row 1 or 31 as a special guest,” said Mr. Thomas.

“Their commitment to their passengers is outstanding and is a benchmark of what cabin service should be.”

Best Long Haul Airlines Best Long Haul Airline awards have been won by: Etihad (Middle East/Africa), Cathay Pacific Airways (Asia/Pacific), Lufthansa (Europe) and Delta Air Lines (The Americas).

delta is the best airline in america

According to Mr. Thomas, these four long haul carriers are clear leaders in their region and beyond. “Each defines long haul travel and can be counted on to deliver the best possible product.”

Lufthansa, Etihad and Cathay Pacific Airways are synonymous with luxury in long haul travel and have launched new aircraft and interior designs to enhance global travel,” said Mr. Thomas. “Delta Air Lines is also emerging as a new force in international travel with new energy, in-flight product and new aircraft.”