Just because international travel has been extremely limited due to the COVID pandemic, doesn’t mean that airlines are not being judged.
Airlineratings.com released its 2021 excellence awards last week and Australian carriers performed particularly well.
While no Australian airline made it into the top three in the overall best airline (Qantas finished fourth), they did collect a number of the other minor awards.
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The overall best airline was won by Qatar Airways, finishing ahead of Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.
The awards are judged on key safety criteria such as incident reports and government audits as well as 11 key criteria that include the age of the fleet, passenger reviews, product offerings and staff relations.
Airlineratings.com editor Geoffrey Thomas said there were a number of reasons why Qatar Airways took out the top prize this year.
“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,” Mr Thomas said.
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“Qatar Airways is no stranger to the winner’s circle, having picked up many awards for its service and cabin seating over the past 10 years.”
Qatar also took out the awards for best business class and best catering.
“The airline’s Qsuite is a first-class experience in business class,” Mr Thomas said. “It leaves little to chance, and our judges rated it as one of the best overall business-class products they had seen. It sets a standard to which some airlines can only aspire.”
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Qantaslink took out the award for best regional airline, an award it won back in 2019.
“Qantaslink is an outstanding operation and brings the safety and product of Qantas to the remotest corner of Australia,” Mr Thomas said.
“At every touchpoint, it is a class operation and there is innovation – driven by isolation – everywhere.”
Qantas’ main Australian opposition, Virgin Australia, also collected a top gong, winning the award for best cabin crew.
“Virgin Australia’s cabin crew treat every passenger whether in row one or at the back of the aircraft as a special guest,” Mr Thomas said.
“Their commitment to their passengers is outstanding and is a benchmark of what cabin service should be. And this applies to ground staff as well, where the standards are just as high.
“The airline’s staff have gone through a very turbulent 12-plus months with both COVID and receivership, but their smiles have never left.”
Jetstar was voted the best low-cost airline in the Asia-Pacific region as part of the awards.
“Jetstar is a top-quality, low-cost operation and has been in the winner’s circle several times before at AirlineRatings.com,” Mr Thomas said.
“The Jetstar group’s DNA comes from its parent Qantas and it shows with a major focus on safety and customer care.”
Airlineratings.com’s top 20 airlines for 2021
1. Qatar Airways
2. Air New Zealand
6. Cathay Pacific
7. Virgin Atlantic
9. EVA Air
10. British Airways
14. Japan Airlines
16. Hawaiian Airlines
17. Alaska Airlines
18. Virgin Australia
19. Delta Air Lines
20. Etihad Airways
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