I’ve taken more than 1,500 flights since 2010, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to try out many of the different airlines that are available around the world. After ten straight years of travel, these are my top 20 favorite airlines (and a brief explanation of why each airline made the list!)
Qatar Airways is, hands down, the best all-around airline worldwide. They have incredible food options, really clean planes, and excellent international flight attendants that will keep you happy. Flying economy class on Qatar is like flying first class on many other airlines; you honestly have to experience it to believe it. Also, the Doha airport is a wonderful place to connect—their lounges are insane! I really love whenever I get the chance to fly Qatar Airways.
In my opinion, Singapore has the world’s most efficient airline—it’s almost never delayed. I also think they have the best selection of movies and shows available on demand, and sometimes they will offer free WiFi. They’re also one of just ten airlines to be rated five stars by SkyTrax (an elite air travel rating system.)
If you ever fly through Asia, check out Singapore Airlines. You will not be disappointed!
You really can’t go wrong with Emirates! Most of the planes in their fleet are the Air Bus A380: a “double decker” plane featuring two full-length decks that seat over 500 travelers. They have amazing food and service, as well. The only issue I have with them is that Emirates is not part of any “airline alliance,” so the points you earn don’t count for anything but Emirates and can’t be transferred. If you fly them enough, though, it’s worth it.
Another great Middle Eastern airline (based out of the UAE) is Etihad Airways, which has first-class service and the most comfortable seats for economy class. If you aren’t able to take Emirates, then your second best option for air travel in the Middle East is Etihad.
5. Korean Air
I love Korean Air because they serve the absolute best kimchi bi-bim-bap (my favorite Korean dish)—it’s better than you will find at any restaurant in Seoul! Also, make sure to book an extra long layover at Seoul Incheon Airport. They have an entire movie theatre, an 18-hole golf course, and even an ice skating rink inside!
Hong Kong’s premier airline will not disappoint you. They have service to almost every big city (including one of the world’s longest flights, London → Hong Kong.) Cathay Pacific is known for great customer service both on and off the aircraft and great onboard amenities. It’s just an all-around fantastic experience to fly Cathay!
Japan’s largest airline by both revenue and number of passengers, ANA is usually my go-to if I’m flying around East Asia or from Japan to the United States. Their planes are huge, stylish, and their on-air entertainment system is great. I highly recommend ANA!
Lufthansa is easily Europe’s best airline and also their most extensive network (headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.) They are one of the five founding members of “Star Alliance,” which is, in my opinion, the world’s best alliance program. (I talk more about the benefits of Star Alliance HERE.) I recommend racking up as many points as possible with Lufthansa so you can use them elsewhere in the Star Alliance network. Oh, and have I mentioned how great their service is? If you need to fly to, from, or around Europe—Lufthansa is the way to go!
9. Thai Airways
You might have figured out by now that Asian airlines are the best in the world, and Thai Airways is no exception! Thai Airways serves 101 destinations and is a great option anytime you are flying in or out of Thailand.
10. Japan Airlines
For some reason, I have always been able to score cheap first-class tickets on Japan Air (compared to other big Asian airlines), so I definitely recommend looking into that if you can spend an extra few bucks. Other than that, this airline has a solid menu and super friendly staff. I’ve never had a bad experience with Japan Airlines!
Founded in 1919 in the Netherlands, KLM is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. Today, they serve 145 destinations, and it’s always a pleasure to be greeted by the most welcoming Dutch flight attendants. Honestly, I’d take KLM just to have a layover at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport—the best in Europe!
12. Turkish Airlines
I have flown Turkish Airlines more than any other airline by a long shot (and I’ve been to the New Istanbul Airport more than 45 times since it opened in late 2019!) Turkish Air flies to all the crazy locations and destinations that most airlines wouldn’t dare, like Mogadishu, Somalia; Kabul, Afghanistan; and Juba, South Sudan, among others. So if you’re trying to get off the beaten path, Turkish is your airline. The staff aren’t necessarily the friendliest in my experience, but the planes are always great, and you will definitely have a good time!
13. Asiana Airlines
My favorite Korean-owned airline is Asiana because they have the cheapest flights to the United States (and often around Asia). Asiana is top-class, and I never miss a chance to fly them! If you’re booking a trip to Asia, try them out. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.
14. Jet Blue
While most US airlines would not make this list, I added Jet Blue because they really do capitalize on efficiency, and they are CHEAP without being a budget airline. Unfortunately, Jet Blue isn’t a member of any of the three major airline alliances. However, they have codeshare agreements with 21 airlines and serve many countries in North, Central, and South America.
15. Fiji Airways
If you are flying to the Pacific Islands, you’ll likely fly Fiji Air. In fact, it’s the only airline that flies into some Pacific Island countries (like Tuvalu.) They even have a nonstop to L.A. twice a day! The flight attendants always dress in a Fijian manner and will say “Bula!” when you enter the plane (the Fijian word for welcome.) I had an amazing experience with them, and I can’t wait to fly Fiji Airways again, hopefully soon!
16. Delta Airlines
The only other American-owned airline I’m including on this list is Delta Airlines, and it’s only for their international services. They operate over 5,400 flights daily and serve 352 destinations on six continents. Delta Airlines is also a founding member of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance. While I prefer Star Alliance, SkyTeam is probably in second place. Delta may not be the best airline on this list in terms of service, food, and entertainment system, but they always get the job done on time.
Qantas is the flagship airline of Australia, based out of Sydney. It’s probably the most expensive airline I’ve included on this list, and I’ve only had the opportunity to fly with them a few times—but I was pleased each time by their professionalism and service, and I plan to fly them again soon! If you ever head to the land down under, look into flying Qantas.
18. Garuda Indonesia
One of the largest airlines in South East Asia, Garuda is headquartered in Indonesia and serves many countries in the region. It’s also the best option for domestic flights (Indonesia has over 20,000 islands.) I once took a flight from Bali to Jakarta for just $11—and yes, we even got a free meal! Garuda Indonesia is world-class.
19. Air New Zealand
Another great airline in the Pacific is Air New Zealand. I recently flew them from Auckland to Tonga and was very impressed with their service. I’d choose Air New Zealand over Qantas and Fiji if possible, but it flies to fewer destinations, so it’s a bit harder to find the flight you’re looking for. That being said, always keep an eye out on their website for deals!
Last but not least in this list is Hong Kong Airlines, the secondary Hong Kong-based airline (behind Cathay Pacific.) I flew Manila to Hong Kong in Hong Kong Airlines’ first class (which lays down flat) for only $300 round trip! If that doesn’t impress you, then I’m not sure what will. Hong Kong Airlines is spectacular, and it’s one of my go-to’s across South East and East Asia.
I hope this list of my top twenty favorite airlines is helpful to you! Because I’ve spent the last ten years traveling, I’ve really had the opportunity to try out many of the world’s best airlines. No matter where you’re hoping to travel, there should be an airline on this list that can take you there!
Some other articles that may be helpful to you as you’re considering these airlines are my 14 Best Tips for Finding Cheap Flights, my Top 10 Tips to Find Your Way Around Any Airport, and also THIS article on the best ways to maximize your rewards points.