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Revealed: The world's best airlines for 2019 – where does BA rank?

Oliver Smith
Number one? It's not BA

Qatar Airways has scooped the top prize at the annual World Airline Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of the aviation industry”, regaining a title it last held in 2017.

The Middle Eastern carrier pipped Singapore Airlines - last year’s winner - to the gong, with Japan’s All Nippon Airways completing the podium.

Only one European airline - Lufthansa - made the top 10, while the highest rated North American carrier was Air Canada, in 31st.

There was good news for British carriers, however. Virgin Atlantic, which sunk four places last year to 29th, leapt back up the rankings to 21st.

British Airways saw an even bigger jump, rising from 31st in 2018 to 19th this year. It is still some way off its 2006 heyday, when it topped the table, but the improvement will be welcomed by the company, which has faced criticism in recent years for scrapping free food and drink on short-haul flights, cutting legroom, and copying low-cost carriers with the introduction of “basic” fares, which mean passengers with hold luggage pay more.

The World Airline Awards, established 20 years ago, are based on the opinions of travellers. Skytrax, the company behind them, claims more than 20 million people take part in each annual survey.  

Other previous winners of the top prize have included Emirates (2001, 2002, 2013, 2016), Cathay Pacific (2003, 2005, 2009, 2014) and Asiana (2010).

Most American airlines struggled to make an impact. JetBlue, a low-cost carrier based in New York, pipped the big four of Delta, American, United and Southwest to be named top US airline – but still it managed just 40th. Delta fell four places to 41st and American dropped three places to 74th. United, however, was resurgent, rising 20 places to 68th, while Southwest rose 10 places to 47th.

Other airlines showing a significant improvement this year included Iberia (41st to 26th), Philippine Airlines (49th to 30th), LATAM (63rd to 49th), AtlasGlobal (100th to 73rd), and Level, BA’s sister airline, which launched in 2017 (135th to 94th).  

Conversely, several airlines tumbled down the table, including Turkish Airlines (18th to 27th), Etihad (15th to 29th), Alaska Airlines (38th to 54th), Avianca (51st to 70th), and Porter Airlines (62nd to 82nd).

EasyJet (37th) pipped Norwegian (39th) and Ryanair (59th) to the title of best European budget carrier.

Dozens of other awards recognised everything from the best cabin crew (Singapore Airlines) to the best in-flight entertainment (Emirates). For a full list, see the Skytrax website.

Telegraph Travel readers’ favourite airline

The annual Telegraph Travel Awards, voted for by more than 50,000 readers, last year named Singapore Airlines as the best long-haul carrier, and Swiss as the best short-haul.

In the former category, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways and Korean Air completed the top five, in the latter it was Icelandair, Jet2.com, Austrian Airlines and KLM.

BA, which was named best short-haul airline in 2016, fell to 13th in 2017, but rebounded to 10th last year.

As with the Skytrax Awards, US carriers have struggled in the annual Telegraph reader poll. Only Delta has risen above 40th in the last three awards (it is also the only one showing consistent improvement), with United all but pinned to the depths of your opinions.

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