Lonely Planet Writer

The world's best airline won't surprise you - but the airline in second place might

Qatar Airways has retained its place as the best airline in the world in a major survey of international airlines and their quality of service.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways Image by curimedia PHOTOGRAPHY / CC BY 2.0

In a surprising second place however, is the small Italian regional airline, Air Dolomiti, which flies just a handful of routes between the north of Italy and the German city of Munich. The airline – which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa – operates just ten aircraft, each of which is named after an opera in homage to the fact it is headquartered in the province of Verona. According to the newest AirHelp rankings, it scored 9.4 out of ten for punctuality, eight for the quality of its service, and 8.1 for how it handles complaints from customers.

Making up the rest of the top five were Austrian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and the Dutch national carrier KLM; all of which scored at least eight out of ten. The top ranked airlines in the UK were British Airways (14th overall), Flybe (21st), and Easyjet (62nd). AirHelp chief executive Henrik Zillmer said: “as passengers worldwide see customer service being diminished by many major airlines, they are instead being driven to choose carriers that offer more than just a seat from A to B. An airline such as Qatar Airways, who understands the importance of putting the customer first, is setting the bar high and is an example for the rest of the industry of how to put the customer experience at the forefront of the airline product.”

Each of the 78 airlines in the rankings is rated on three things: quality and service, on-time performance, and processing claims from passengers. For on-time performance, Air Austral in Réunion and Air Arabia Maroc scored most highly, with Air Dolomoti in third. The top three for best customer service were Cathay Pacific Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines respectively, according to the rankings. For those occasions when something does go wrong and passengers are entitled to compensation for delays or lost luggage, Air Baltic, City Jet, and Austrian Airlines were the most straightforward to deal with.