With summer’s airline travel chaos thankfully behind us and services returning to their more usual and reliable standard, now presents an ideal time to assess which airlines have come out on top and which have drowned under the wave of post-pandemic demand.
Fortunately for us, on Friday night industry leaders gathered for the Skytrax Airline Awards – often dubbed ‘the Oscars of the aviation industry’. Skytrax is a UK-based airline and airport review site which has been hosting the awards since 1999, and last week the awards returned for the first time since the covid-19 pandemic.
The awards are voted for by passengers and Skytrax works hard to ensure that customers are able to make their own personal choices when voting. There is no membership requirement, so any airline can take part and be voted for. 14 million passengers took part in over 100 countries this year, making it one of the largest aviation surveys globally.
This year Qatar Airlines took first prize for Best World Airline, winning Best Business Class, Best Business Class Seat and Best Business Class Lounge Dining. The award is the seventh time the airline has won Best Airline since it started. On the night, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, took home the award and thanked his "incredible employees" for "their continued dedication and drive.”
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines took home its own clutch of prizes, gaining the title of Best American Airline, as well as six different regional-specific awards. These included; Best Airline in North America, Best Airline Staff Service in North America, Best Cabin Crew in the USA, Best Business Class in North America; Best Premium Economy Class in North America and Best Economy Class in North America.
Globally, Delta was the top-rated American airline, placing in the top 25 fleets globally and beating its close competitor United Airlines by over 36 places. After Delta, the next US airline to place in the top 100 was Southwest Airlines, coming in at 35, which may come as a relief to the owners as flight attendants enter into their second day of picketing.
The biggest shock to the awards comes as European low-cost airline Ryanair snapped up the award for Best-Low-Cost Airline in Europe. The company, which has had its fair share of scandals, from trying to bring in “standing seats” to removing toilets on planes to make more space, came out on top this year.
This may be due to its high customer satisfaction rate compared to other European airlines. Despite general chaos in the region, Ryanair was able to largely keep to its schedule and reported relatively few cancellations. Meanwhile, for those who were left stranded by their competitors, the airline even offered rescue flights for those in need.
Following the awards, Edward Plaisted, Skytrax CEO, said that although celebrating airlines' successes is good the industry is still struggling following high oil prices, covid-19 and staffing shortages. Reflecting on the situation he said, “All in all it's not been the happiest times in many respects.”