Best International Airlines for Travel Adventures

Best international airlines
Float plane in Alaska – this is definitely one of our favorite airlines!

The adventure of taking flight is one of the most exciting parts of traveling somewhere new. While Covid-19 has ultimately grounded airlines in the past few years, Skytrax recently published its annual round up for best airline rankings globally in 2021.

Today we’ll be discussing the world’s best airlines to fly with internationally as air travel opens back up once more to the public. Key “Best’s” categories we’ll cover are:

Best Overall International Airline

Woman standing with her arms up and looking at the desert landscape while hiking
On a guided international trip in Jordan.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is widely considered one of the world’s best airlines. It’s consistently ranked number one with airline excellence awards in cabin innovation, safety compliance, and best business class. Qatar Airways health and safety standards for travel are top-notch too – it was recently one of the first to trial the COVID Safe Travel Pass the International Air Transport Association created.

While Qatar Airways has consistently been number one, it doesn’t mean all the rest suck. There are a host of other top airlines that rank among the best in the world, so if you can’t get on a Qatar Airways flight, don’t despair!That being said, you may notice a pattern with many of these airlines — lots are in the Asia Pacific region. (Maybe somewhere in Asia should be next on the travel bucket list?!)

Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines

Nippon Air is also considered one of the world’s best airlines. Certified five stars by Skytrax, its in-flight service, passenger comfort, and amenities are among the categories making it a top-notch choice for air travel.

Japan Airlines also ranks highly with Skytrax, with many passengers lauding JAL as the best way to fly economy throughout Asia with its extra legroom, and ability to redeem travel points.

Singapore Airlines

Not only is Singapore Airlines one of the best airlines in the world, it’s also one of the most respected. Its flight crews, dubbed the Singapore Girl, are draped in signature sarongs originally designed for Singapore Airlines by Balmain in the 1970s. They serve as a global identifier for Singapore Airlines’ commitment to customer service and high standards of care, no matter business class or premium economy.

Cathay Pacific

Having just surpassed its 75th anniversary in business, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific makes for one of the oldest airlines on this list. Passenger reviews and awards commend Cathay Pacific for having some of the best airport lounges in all of Asia.

Eva Air

Taiwan’s Eva Air specializes in long-haul flights to Asia from the United States, with passenger reviews remarking about the excellent service and meals onboard. It also ranks for having the best cabin crew, and best premium economy class.

British Airways

British Airways is the only carrier from the United Kingdom on this list. It is certified as having 4 stars by Skytrax for its onboard product selection, and cabin service on both short and long haul flights.

Best US International Airline

zip lining flying
Doing a different type of flying.

Delta Airlines

Among the top airlines in the United States for international travel, Delta  Air lines’ on time records made it one of the most consistent and accurate airlines to travel with. 83 percent of 2019 flights arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled time.

The airline’s repatriation flights for Americans abroad throughout the pandemic are also a noteworthy point. It was one of the few carriers the Department of Defense selected to assist with this task.

Despite shoddy press in recent years over its handling of passengers on overbooked flights, United Airlines serves as the runner-up in this category, with its reputation for on-time flights and service quality.

The Cheapest International Airline

Budget providers are becoming more prevalent throughout the travel industry, with many offering airfares for as low as $35. Sure, you may not get the little airplane snacks on these flights, but you can certainly save some cash.

For those looking to save dough on their air carrier and method of transportation, popular cheap airlines that take the cake for a low cost airline award include EasyJet, and Ryanair throughout Europe, AirAsia X – the largest low-cost airline in Asia, and WestJet, the Canadian equivalent of AirAsiaX.

The Most Luxurious Airline

Etihad Airways outdoes all the rest as one of the most luxurious airlines in the world. Recognized as the second flagship air carrier of the United Arab Emirates, its first-class cabins come equipped with what are essentially small private apartments onboard, including a personal butler, and complimentary loungewear.

The Most Comfortable Airline

most comfortable airline

While its in-flight amenities are reportedly lackluster, Hawaiian Airlines flights feature some of the roomiest seats in the aviation industry. Their Airbus A330 planes are apparently the best.

Alaska Airlines offers a great alternative as well for those passengers seeking roomier seats when flying. It also tends to include better in-flight entertainment in the form of preloaded tablets for long haul flights.

The Safest Airline

Air New Zealand and Qantas Airways, Australia’s flagship carrier, were among the safest in the industry for 2021. Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief for AirlineRatings.com, praised Qantas for taking the lead in every major safety advancement for the past 60 years.

The Best Airline Cabin Crew

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia outdo many airlines for the best cabin crew. Many passengers report that the crew go the extra mile to make sure passengers are happy.

Each plane in the Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic fleet also has its own unique design and name such as Uptown Girl and Daydream Believer, an intentional ode to its music industry CEO and titan, Richard Branson.

The Best Airline for Covid Policies

Nippon Airways and Delta Air are highly lauded for their Covid-19 policies. Delta was among the first to adjust boarding procedures amidst the pandemic by leaving middle seats empty. Nippon provides flyers a contactless check-in experience, including self-service bag drops.

How We Chose These Airlines

womans international trip peru with alpacas
Woman’s trip in Peru on Rainbow Mountain.

If you’re wondering “who are we to give info on international airlines,” this section is for you! As a women’s travel guiding company and passionate travelers ourselves, we’ve been on our fair share of international airlines. (And dealt with all the stress and hair pulling that comes from flying with certain airlines.) But we’ve also done our homework for this particular post.

We selected each airline within a given category based on our research results. We reviewed many different airline reviews throughout the web and collected the airlines that consistently showed up on top.

Meet the Writer

lindsay stroud writer

Lindsay Stroud

Lindsay Stroud is a freelance content writer and ghostwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Her published works can be found on Jiyubox and Passion Passport, in addition to producing ghostwritten content for Owl Labs and Wonderment. Her favorite destinations include Berlin, Stockholm, and Florence. In her spare time, you’ll find her exploring local foodie joints throughout her neighborhood, or planning itineraries for future trips.

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