When the COVID pandemic became global in early 2020, air travel was significantly affected. International tourism was all but discontinued. The ones still flying in aircraft then have been mostly people stranded in foreign countries awaiting a ride home, health officials going from one trouble spot to another, and conveyors of COVID vaccines among others. This year there have been relaxations in air travel restrictions, with some tourism trying to get back on its feet. The picture is still not overly bright, but enough airline traffic is active that a review and award-giving body has a “top airline list” up.

CNN International reports that UK-based international airline review consultancy Skytrax has publicized its World Airline Awards winners, covering a period from September 2019 to this past July. Based on results from a customer survey with 350 airlines around the world to air travellers during that time, the top airline is Qatar Airways, based in that nation’s capital of Doha. It has been a good reception this 2021 for the Middle Eastern air carrier. Also back in July they were also ranked number one on AirlineRatings.com for this year. Back with Skytrax, this is Qatar Airways’ sixth time being at the top of the list.

According to Skytrax CEO Edward Plaisted, Qatar Airways was able to maintain its high standards in innovation and service even as they transitioned from “normal” times in 2019 to the pandemic years. This is reflected in the carrier’s placing in the other categories of the World Airline Awards. Qatar has earned the World’s Best Business Class, Best Business Class Seat, Best Regional Airline (Middle East), Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Business Class Onboard Catering. These victories were hailed by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Abu-Baker, saying their carrier did not abandon their customers during the pandemic and kept them assuredly COVID-safe via innovative biosafety measures.

Rounding out the Top 10 World’s Best Airlines for the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2021 are (in descending order), Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways (JPN), Emirates (UAE), Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific (HK), EVA Air (Taiwan), Qantas Airways (AUS), Hainan Airlines (PRC) and Air France. Some of these are also their respective regions’ Best Airline winners: Singapore (Asia), Air France (W-Europe), Qantas (AUS-Pacific), and Hainan (China). ANA is number one for Cleanest Airline Cabin, Singapore topped the Best Cabin Crew, and JAL aced Best Airline Seat.

Skytrax notes that the top category winners in the latest World Airline Awards are still mostly the same dominant air carriers from years past. On the more affordable end, Malaysia’s AirAsia was number one among the World’s Best Low-Cost Airlines.

Image courtesy of GEEKSPIN