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AirlineRatings Awards 2021: The world's top 20 airlines revealed

Global aviation benchmark website has announced its Top 20 Airlines in the World for 2021 along with its prestigious Airline Excellence Awards.

Global aviation benchmark website has announced its Top 20 Airlines in the World for 2021 along with its prestigious Airline Excellence Awards.

While on the surface, 2021 may not have been a year to remember for aviation, the world’s airlines have still been busy keeping economies and people connected the world over while innovating and adapting in preparation for the onset of post-pandemic travel.

So what are the criteria for the awards you might ask? To be named in AirlineRatings’ top twenty, airlines must achieve a seven-star safety rating and demonstrate leadership in innovation for passenger comfort.

The editors of, some of the most experienced and awarded, look for a consistent level of service, innovation, and staff engagement from each major contender. Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas says, “we are focused on leadership and airlines that innovate to make a real difference to the passenger experience.”

“In our evaluation, we also consider the audited feedback from passengers on our website.”

So who topped the esteemed list for 2021?

1. Qatar Airways


Qatar Airways was ranked number 1 because of its cabin innovation, passenger service, and its dedication and commitment to continue to operate throughout the COVID pandemic.

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.

2. Air New Zealand

Karry On - Air New Zealand New York

Air New Zealand which took the second position in the Top Twenty, is always at the forefront of airline awards because of its constant innovation and industry leadership.

3. Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines First Class

In third position is Singapore Airlines which continues to excel in technology innovation and in-flight products. The airline also took at Best First Class.

4. Qantas


Qantas took the fourth spot in the Top Twenty for its outstanding safety record and fiscal performance during the extremely difficult COVID pandemic. It also took out Best Lounge and Best Domestic Service awards.

5. Emirates

Emirates Premium Economy
Emirates Premium Economy

Emirates climbed to the fifth spot and has just introduced a premium economy class which is being hailed as one of the best in the industry.

6. Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Airways took the sixth spot and is always in the winner’s circle. It has won numerous awards from including Best Business Class in 2013 and 2015 and Best Asia-Pacific Airline for 2016.

7. Virgin Atlantic

In seventh spot is Virgin Atlantic which has always been at the forefront of cabin innovation.

8. United Airlines

Leaping up the rankings to eighth spot in the Top Twenty is Chicago-based United Airlines which has stunned the aviation world with its huge commitments to supersonic, subsonic, and electric aircraft to rejuvenate its fleet and offer passengers the very best in comfort and eco-technology.

9. EVA Air

EVA Air takes ninth spot. EVA Air is a leader in Taiwanese aviation and has always been at the forefront of cabin innovation such as premium economy in 1992.

10. British Airways

Making up the Top Ten is British Airways, which for decades has been amongst the winners for product, service, and innovation.

The top 10 was followed by: Lufthansa, ANA, Finnair, Japan Air Lines, KLM, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Australia, Delta Air Lines, and Etihad Airways in 20th place for 2021.