As travelers returned to the skies in 2021, they relied on airlines to get them to their destinations not just safely, but in style. Whether you’re flying halfway around the world or on a (relatively) short transatlantic hop, comfort, good food, and kind service are of the utmost importance. And that’s exactly what Travel + Leisure readers considered when rating the best international airlines.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the airlines category, readers rated carriers on cabin comfort, in-flight service, food, customer service, and value.
Edging their way back on after being knocked out of the 2021 top 10 are No. 9 ANA and No. 10 Cathay Pacific Airways, two Asian heavyweights that were each praised for exceptional onboard service.
One of the newer airlines to make our readers’ rankings is No. 6 La Compagnie, an all-business-class airline that launched in 2014 and currently connects New York with Paris, the Côte d’Azur, and Milan; it’s been voted a World’s Best International Airline since 2019.
The rest of the list is primarily filled by old reliables. No 2. Qatar Airways is, as always, celebrated for its business-class Qsuite, the first closed-door suite to enter service on any airline. “A 15-hour flight passes in what seems like moments,” one voter said. Korean Air (No. 5) is also lauded for making time pass quickly and easily: “They made the longest flights I’ve ever taken comfortable and pleasant experiences,” another said.
And, of course, the best international airline in the world — for more than a quarter-century — is none other than Singapore Airlines. Read on to find out why Singapore Airlines is so beloved by travelers and to discover the four other international airlines voted the World’s Best by T+L readers.
1. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has been at the top of this list an incredible 27 times — every year of the awards’ existence — and it scored even higher this year than last. Passengers are enthusiastic about every single aspect of the onboard experience: “Everything is as close to perfect as possible. Outstanding food, service, comfort,” one voter said. And that’s exactly what travelers want to hear before they board the longest flight in the world, a 19-hour haul from Singapore to New York. The luxury carrier had a big year, debuting six brand-new first-class suites on the A380s servicing the U.S. and unveiling new flagship lounges at Changi Airport following a $36 million renovation. It’s perhaps unsurprising that another voter called Singapore Airlines “the standard against which all other airlines are measured.”
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 92.68
More information: singaporeair.com
2. Qatar Airways
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.67
More information: qatarairways.com
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.92
More information: emirates.com
4. Turkish Airlines
More information: turkishairlines.com
5. Korean Air
More information: koreanair.com
6. La Compagnie
More information: lacompagnie.com
7. Air New Zealand
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 87.20
More information: airnewzealand.com
8. Japan Airlines (JAL)
More information: jal.co.jp
More information: ana.co.jp
10. Cathay Pacific Airways
More information: cathaypacific.com