There was some serious drama and intrigue in the best international airlines category this year. Our best airline for the last 27 years was knocked off the top of the podium by a 10-year-old airline that didn’t crack the top five last year. Like we said: drama and intrigue.
How Voting Works
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. Nearly 165,000 T+L readers completed the 2023 survey, an increase of nearly 25 percent over pre-pandemic voting levels. A total of more than 685,000 votes were cast across over 8,500 unique properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).
Airlines were specifically rated on the criteria below:
- Cabin comfort
- In-flight service
- Customer service
For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.
What Readers Loved
Singapore Airlines, which slipped to No. 4, wasn’t the only carrier to suffer in rankings this year. Turkish Airlines and Korean Air, which ranked No. 4 and No. 5 last year, respectively, have completely fallen out of the top 10. But two other airlines are top five staples and remain so this year: No. 2 Emirates and No. 3 Qatar.
French carrier La Compagnie, an all-business-class airline with just two planes, is the 2023 winner for best international airline. “Everyone is nice, polite, and professional. They keep you apprised of what’s going on, both positive and negative,” one T+L reader said. “Excellent planes and boarding and deboarding have been easy and fast.”
Read on to find out more about La Compagnie, as well as the other nine other international airlines voted the World’s Best by T+L readers.
The Full List
1. La Compagnie
Just 10 years old, La Compagnie is a boutique airline that offers passengers all-business-class flights between the U.S. and Europe at a significant discount over major carriers — fares start at just $2,200 round trip. La Compagnie has just two aircraft right now, both Airbus A321neos, each of which accommodates 76 passengers in lie-flat seats (meals, Champagne, and two checked bags are included). The catch is that the airline only flies between Newark and Paris, Nice, and Milan. While the routes are limited, the discounts are unparalleled. “Their Black Friday deals are great — did not capitalize early enough this year,” one voter noted.
Reader Score: 95.56
Emirates is a perennially popular long-haul airline. While its business and economy products are comfortable, it’s the ultra-private first class that stands out. “Putting on the PJs they give you and then taking a shower 40,000 feet in the air before you put your clothes back on and depart is worth it!” one voter said.
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 89.62
Qatar Airways’ claim to fame is its Qsuite business-class seats. “The Qsuite is simply the best option in the sky. Qatar’s service, seat comfort, on-time schedule, staff, and newer planes are simply on top for me,” a voter remarked.
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 89.43
The reigning international airline for the entire history of T+L’s World’s Best Awards was dethroned this year. For 27 years, Singapore Airlines had been our readers’ favorite international airline, but the pandemic changed the game. “The past year or so has been challenging for any travel into/out of Singapore, and I was disappointed in Singapore Airlines’ ability to ‘pivot’ and offer their usual top-notch service for customer service,” one voter wrote. Still, Singapore Airlines should not be dismissed — it remains in the top five for good reason; its longstanding commitment to comfort and style on the world’s longest flight all but promises we haven’t seen the end of SIA in the top spot.
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 88.87
All Nippon Airways, or ANA, is a Japanese carrier with stellar premium products, including the business-class seat “The Room” and first-class seat “The Suite.”
Reader Score: 87.53
This French Polynesian carrier connects Tahiti with Los Angeles, Seattle, Paris, Tokyo, and Auckland with a small fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
Reader Score: 87.45
Also known as JAL, Japan Airlines is highly regarded for its dining options. And with the surge of passengers heading to Japan, it’s keeping up with demand while delivering top-notch service.
Reader Score: 87.03
The flag carrier of Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific receives high marks for its in-flight service.
Reader Score: 86.88
Virgin Atlantic is a favorite choice for hops across the pond, and with its new fleet of Airbus 330-900neos, we think it’ll be even more popular next year.
Reader Score: 86.34
10. EVA Air
Taiwanese carrier EVA originated the premium economy cabin way back in 1991, and it’s still an excellent product today.
Reader Score: 85.42