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No U.S. Carriers Among World’s Best Airlines?

Skytrax has been conducting its World Airline Survey since 1999. For 2013, the survey results covered more than 200 airlines, with respondents representing more than 100 different nationalities. The company boasts that it uses sophisticated data-weighting algorithms to compensate for different sample sizes, and has fraud-detection mechanisms in place to maintain the results’ legitimacy. And the research is not funded by any of the ranked companies.

In other words, as surveys of the world’s airlines go, this is arguably the gold standard.

The Best Overall

So, which of the world’s airlines were ranked best overall?

Here are the top 20:

1. Emirates
2. Qatar Airways
3. Singapore Airlines
4. ANA All Nippon Airways
5. Asiana Airlines
6. Cathay Pacific Airways
7. Etihad Airways
8. Garuda Indonesia
9. Turkish Airlines
10. Qantas Airways
11. Lufthansa
12. EVA Air
13. Virgin Australia
14. Malaysia Airlines
15. Thai Airways
16. Swiss Int’l Air Lines
17. Korean Air
18. Air New Zealand
19. Hainan Airlines
20. Air Canada

U.S. Airlines

Given the global nature of the survey, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that American carriers fared poorly against competitors from Asia and, increasingly, the Middle East.

The best showing for a U.S. airline in the “Best Overall” category was Virgin America, at number 26. Other U.S. carriers: Delta, number 45; JetBlue, 46; United, 57; Alaska, 62; Southwest, 74; Hawaiian, 79; American, 81; US Airways, 97.

Best Alliance

Among the other categories of note was the award for the best global airline alliance.

Of the three alliances, survey respondents voted oneworld the best, followed by Star and SkyTeam.

That’s a result that’s likely to puzzle U.S.-based travelers, who generally favor Star over oneworld.

Reader Reality Check

Which airline gets your vote for best carrier overall?

This article originally appeared on

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