The best airlines
in the world 2021

Home Best Airlines 2021

In a year of travel uncertainties, eDreams showcases the airlines that have successfully adapted to offer outstanding service to their customers in the face of a global crisis, using a unique 360° analysis of information from over 61,000 customer reviews, and data from 667 airlines. This year, due to COVID-19, we’ve updated our Best Airlines in the World study. The top rankings go to those airlines that have provided unparalleled service, not only on board their aircrafts, but throughout each customer touchpoint, leading the way in flight refunds, reliability, ticket flexibility, value for money, overall experience and safety.

Top 10 airlines in the world

Airline Total Score Refunds Reliability Customer Rating Safety
1 Qatar Airways 4.40 5.0 4.2 4.0 4.4
2 Delta Air Lines 4.11 5.0 2.8 3.7 5.0
3 ANA 4.09 4.9 2.9 4.2 4.4
4 KLM 3.88 3.8 4.1 3.7 3.9
5 British Airways 3.88 5.0 3.8 3.4 3.3
6 Turkish Airlines 3.85 3.0 4.1 3.8 4.4
7 Etihad Airways 3.82 4.3 2.8 3.7 4.4
8 Singapore Airlines 3.79 4.3 3.0 4.0 3.9
9 Lufthansa 3.73 4.2 3.9 3.5 3.3
10 United Airlines 3.68 4.4 3.6 3.5 3.3

* All scores are out of a maximum of 5 points

The number one airline in the world is Qatar Airways. Proving to be consistently excellent, Qatar Airways came in second last year, and has jumped up to the first spot in 2021 as a result of its remarkable efforts during the year. Scoring top marks for airline refunds and ticket flexibility, Qatar Airways also scored high marks across the board.

The second best airline in the world is Delta Air Lines who last year missed out on a top 10 spot. Delta’s commitment to passenger safety and providing customers with refunds has been essential to its success in this year's rankings. In third place is All Nippon Airways: The largest airline in Japan. All Nippon Airways ranked highly for customer satisfaction, providing refunds and implementing new safety measures.

Top 3 airlines by category

The best airlines for flight refunds

Requests processed: 100%
Average time*: Less than a week
Refunds
5.0
Requests processed: 100%
Average time*: Less than a week
Refunds
5.0
Requests processed: 98%
Average time*: Less than 2 weeks
Refunds
5.0

In order to calculate which airlines are the best for refunding passengers, we analysed their refund processing rate, and the speed at which refunds are approved.

Qatar Airways and British Airways take joint first place as the best airline for refunds. Admirably, both airlines processed all eligible refunds requested by passengers who booked with eDreams. Further, neither airline changed their usual refund process during the COVID-19 pandemic, and neither airline introduced additional steps to their refund validation process, as some airlines did at this time. Both airlines maintained fast refund approval rates throughout the year. Delta Air Lines is runner-up for the best airline for flight refunds, processing a very respectable 98% of refunds within an average of 2 weeks.

*Average time refers to the time it took the airline to review each eligible refund application, on average. The real time that the refund takes to be reflected in a customer's bank account may be longer.

The world's most reliable airlines

Cancellation rate: ▼ 35%
Ticket flexibility score: 5
Reliability
4.2
Cancellation rate: ▼ 35%
Ticket flexibility score: 5
Reliability
4.1
Cancellation rate: ▼ 35%
Ticket flexibility score: 5
Reliability
4.1

Airline cancellations during the first COVID-19 lockdown were unavoidable - a necessary step to reduce the spread of the virus. However, as summer 2020 started, many airlines picked up their schedules and passengers were once again welcomed on board. To calculate the most reliable airlines in the world, eDreams looked at the percentage of flights cancelled during the post-lockdown period between July and December 2020, for each airline. Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Turkish Airlines all cancelled less than 35% of their scheduled flights.

Additionally, we checked the flight rebooking options provided to customers who wish to change their flight for any reason (even if the flight hasn’t been cancelled). Again, Qatar Airways, KLM and Turkish Airlines came out on top. All three airlines scored the highest rating of 5 for ticket flexibility, allowing customers to rebook their tickets as many times as they like, to a different destination or on a different date, free of charge.

Taking into consideration both the cancellation rate and the ticket flexibility offered, we have three airlines in first place for this category. Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Turkish Airlines are the world’s most reliable airlines.

Best customer-rated airlines

Overall experience: 4.3
Value for money: 4.0
Customer rating
4.2
Overall experience: 4.1
Value for money: 3.9
Customer rating
4.0
Overall experience: 4.1
Value for money: 3.9
Customer rating
4.0

Data collected from a survey of over 61,000 reviews, sent to our customers after completing a trip, showed that All Nippon Airways is the highest customer-rated airline. We asked our customers to rate airlines based on their overall experience and their perceived value for money. All Nippon Airways received an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 for overall airline experience, and an average of 4.0 out of 5 for value for money: providing an average customer rating of 4.2. Not far behind, two airlines take second place. Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines both received an average rating of 4.1 for overall airline experience; 3.9 for value for money and an average customer rating of 4.0.

eDreams’ customer reviews about their favourite airlines:

All Nippon Airways

“Punctual flight. Excellent service. The ticket price included a checked bag of 20 kilos. Excellent all in all”

Qatar Airways

“Qatar Airways is the best airline in the world. Amazing service, very friendly crew - always with a smile.”

Singapore Airlines

“Excellent. Drinks whenever you wanted, meals were outstanding and snacks available throughout the flight. Entertainment was excellent. Professional and friendly staff.”

Airlines with the most COVID-19 safety measures

Safety
4.4
Safety
4.4
Safety
4.4

Is it safe to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic? Many airlines have implemented additional protective measures to make travel as safe as possible during the pandemic. One airline came out on top as the safest airline in the world, and 4 airlines received the same score for runner-up.

Contactless service
Reduced capacity
Face mask
Temperature check
Hygiene kit
Aircraft disinfection
HEPA air filters
Stewards PPE
Limited service
Delta Airlines
ANA
Qatar Airways
Turkish Airlines
Etihad Airways

This year more than ever, travellers are seeking out the safest airlines to fly on. Due to the spread of COVID-19, airlines have stepped up their health and safety standards and implemented new measures to keep customers safe. The airline with the most COVID-19 prevention measures is Delta Air Lines. 4 airlines are close behind, with All Nippon Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airways all ticking the boxes for 8 out of the 9 measures. Where Delta Air Lines sets itself apart from the rest, is its commitment to reducing capacity on airplanes. On aircraft with three seats together, Delta blocks the middle seat to have more space between passengers (unless there is a family of three who wish to sit together). This seat blocking initiative was driven by customer feedback for more space on board.

All 5 airlines have excelled in providing a clean and safe travel experience for their customers. Starting before passenger boarding, these airlines provide a contactless check-in experience with self service bag drops and temperature checks to limit contact between passengers and staff, and ensure that everyone that steps on board is healthy. Once on the aircraft, hygiene kits are provided to all customers. Whilst all airlines require passengers and stewards to wear a face mask, the safest airlines also provide their staff with additional personal protective equipment such as gloves, visors, aprons and in some cases, full body suits. Airlines have replaced their usual onboard service with a limited service, lessening interaction between passengers and stewards. The aircraft themselves have been fitted with high performance HEPA filters which capture 99.9% of bacteria and virus particles, and the air in the cabin passes through these filters every few minutes. On top of this, aircraft are thoroughly disinfected daily. All of these factors make for a cleaner, safer travel experience for every passenger.

How are the winners for best airlines in the world calculated?

Refunds

The total refund score is an average of two scores: The percentage of eligible refund requests that have been processed by the airline, and the average amount of time the airline takes to review each request and approve the refunds.

Reliability

The reliability score is an average of the flight cancellation rate between July and December, and a score out of 5 for airline flexibility around customer rebooking - ranging from 1 point (no free rebooking options) to 5 points (unlimited free rebooking options to a different date or different destination).

Customer rating

We surveyed over 61,000 customers who took a trip between October 2019 and March 2020 and asked them to rate their overall experience and the value for money for the airline they flew with. The total customer rating score is an average of the two.

Safety

Each airline was checked to see if they had the following safety measures: Contactless check-in and self service bag drops, reduced capacity on airplanes, the compulsory use of face masks, temperature checks, a hygiene kit, disinfecting the aircraft daily, high performance HEPA air filters, stewards provided with additional protective equipment and limited on board services. A point was given for each safety measure, and the total score was then recalibrated to be out of 5.

The best airlines in the world at a glance

Which is the best airline in the world?

Qatar Airways is the best airline in the world according to the eDreams annual study on airline refunds, reliability, customer satisfaction and safety.

Which airline is the best at processing refunds?

Qatar Airways and British Airways processed all eligible refunds for eDreams customers, in an average time of less than a week.

Which airline is the most reliable?

The most reliable airlines, with the lowest percentage of cancellations and the most re-booking options, are Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

Which is the best customer-rated airline in the world?

Out of a survey of over 61,000 reviews, eDreams customers rated All Nippon Airways as the best airline in the world.

Which is the safest airline?

Delta Air Lines has implemented the most safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to an eDreams study.

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