This is the world’s best airline (Hint: It’s not a U.S. carrier)

By now we know that airlines are not created equal. It’s hard to know which carrier is truly the best, but a new survey can help to narrow it down.

For the fifth consecutive year, Air New Zealand has been named the “Airline of the Year” from the U.S. by AirlineRatings.com. Various factors were taken into consideration, however, the carriers record-breaking financial performance helped it to beat out competitors. Despite earnings before taxes falling to $527 million in 2017 from $663 million in 2016, the airline still experienced its second-most highest earnings in the company’s history.

In addition to profits, Air New Zealand also took the top spot thanks to in-flight innovations, environmental leadership, security, and a young fleet of aircrafts. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt that New Zealand has been experiencing a tourism boom. In the last year, 3.7 million international tourists have visited the island country so far this year, up 9 percent from 2016.

Air New Zealand was also named as the airline with the finest Premium Economy. Singapore Airlines won for Best First Class experience, Virgin Australia won for Best Business Class expertise, and Korean Air won for Best Economy Class.

The 10 best airlines in the world

AirlineRatings.com also identified the top 10 airlines in the world. After Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore airlines rounded out the top three. The rest of the list includes in their respective position: Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways, All Nippon Airways, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

In order to make this List, airlines must attain a seven-star safety rating and demonstrate leadership in creation for passenger comfort.

By now you’ve noticed that no U.S. carriers made the list, which is disappointing, but not surprising. U.S. carriers also failed to rank on last year’s list.

Perhaps the focus on “passenger comfort” is what keeps legacy airlines such as American, Delta, and United from getting mentioned. U.S. carriers have made many modifications using their economy class seats in the previous two years: They shrunk the size of seats and put them closer together. American Airlines announced that their new 737-Max jet airplanes would comprise three rows of economy seats with a pitch (the space between seats) of 29 inches. The present pitch of similar-sized Boeing 737-800 jets is 31 inches.

In July 2017, United Airlines also declared that It was adding an additional chair in every row in economy class in their Boeing 777 aircraft. In other words, passengers would pay the same price for a ticket, but have less distance.

These cutbacks almost certainly impacted the ranking of U.S. carriers.

“We are On the lookout for leadership and airlines which innovate to make a real difference to the passenger experience, particularly in economy class,” stated the AirlineRatings.com judging team.

Judges also took passenger comments on their website into consideration. According to what we know about American customers, they likely did not have nice things to say about the U.S. carriers.


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