2020 Top Airlines in the World: Where Does Your Favorite Airline Rank?

The 2020 list of the world’s best airlines is out. Which airline reigns supreme?
Updated May 8, 2024
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Air New Zealand plane on the tarmac

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Ever wonder which airlines ranked best in the world? Well, wonder no more. AirlineRatings.com has announced its list of the world’s best airlines for 2020, and Air New Zealand has regained the top spot from Singapore Airlines as Airline of the Year.

AirlineRatings.com is an airline safety and product rating website that covers more than 435 airlines around the globe. Each year, along with its ranking of the world’s best airlines, its Airline of the Year Awards acknowledge the best of the best in more than 20 different air travel categories, ranging from Best Economy Class to Best Cabin Crew and Best Lounges.

AirlineRatings names 2020 winners

To award the coveted top spot, seven AirlineRatings editors examined 12 key factors, including fleet age, operational safety, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, staff relations, and product offerings such as in-flight entertainment, seat pitch, and seating options.

This isn’t the first time Air New Zealand has claimed the number one spot. Aside from Singapore Airlines nabbing Airline of the Year in 2019, Air New Zealand has topped the list for six of the past seven years.

“In our analysis, Air New Zealand came out number one in most of our audit criteria, which is an outstanding performance when it’s up against carriers with more resources and scale on this same list of best airlines for 2020,” AirlineRatings Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas explained.

“Air New Zealand’s commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline’s strategy and customer promise.”

The carrier also won the award for Best Premium Economy for the third year in a row.

Although Singapore Airlines fell from the top spot, the airline took 2nd position and the prestigious First Class award. In 3rd position is All Nippon Airways and in 4th position is Qantas, which also picked up Best Lounge and Best Domestic Service awards.

Here is the complete list of the world’s best airlines for 2020, according to AirlineRatings.com:

Top 20 airlines

  1. Air New Zealand
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. All Nippon Airways
  4. Qantas
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. Emirates
  7. Virgin Atlantic
  8. EVA Air
  9. Qatar Airways
  10. Virgin Australia
  11. Lufthansa
  12. Finnair
  13. Japan Airlines
  14. KLM
  15. Korean Airlines
  16. Hawaiian Airlines
  17. British Airways
  18. Alaska Airlines
  19. Delta Air Lines
  20. Etihad Airways

Category Awards

In addition to the top 20 rankings, editors from AirlineRatings.com pick winners in individual categories. Here are some of the most notable results.

2018 2019 2020
Airline of the Year Air New Zealand Singapore Airlines Air New Zealand
Best First Class Singapore Airlines Singapore Airlines Singapore Airlines
Best Business Class Virgin Australia Qatar Airways Qatar Airways
Best Premium Economy Air New Zealand Air New Zealand Air New Zealand
Best Economy Class Korean Air Korean Air Virgin Australia
Best Low Fare Carrier Europe Norwegian Wizz Wizz
Best Low Fare Carrier Americas WestJet WestJet JetBlue
Inflight Catering Award Qantas Qatar Airways Qatar Airways
Long Haul Americas Air Canada Delta Delta
Long Haul Middle East / Africa Etihad Airways Emirates Emirates
Long Haul Asia N/A EVA Air Cathay Pacific
Long Haul Europe Virgin Atlantic Lufthansa Lufthansa
Inflight Entertainment Award Emirates Emirates Emirates
Best Cabin Crew Singapore Airlines Virgin Australia Virgin Australia
Best Lounges Qantas Qantas Qantas

Singapore Airlines, which is always at the head of the pack for airline awards, retained the top prize for Best First Class for its impressive first-class suites.

Qatar Airways once again picked up awards for Best Business Class and Inflight Catering Award for its impressive Qsuites and dine-on-demand service. Qatar ranked 9th overall.

Qantas, which came in at the 4th position, took home the Best Lounges awards yet again. Although the Australian-based carrier is testing its ultra-long haul flight capabilities, the airline wasn’t able to snag any of the Long Haul awards.

Instead, Delta Airlines grabbed the top spot for the Americas for the second year in a row, Emirates retained the Long Haul Middle East/Africa award, Cathay Pacific took Asia, and Lufthansa won in Europe.

Other notable awards

While international carriers took many of the top spots in the 2020 rankings and category awards, a few U.S.-based carriers were recognized as being among the best.

Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Air Lines made the top 20 list, coming in at 16th, 18th, and 19th respectively, but both Delta and JetBlue were able to take home awards in individual categories.

JetBlue took the top spot in Best Low Fare Carrier Americas, beating out Canadian-based WestJet, which held the top spot for two consecutive years prior. Delta also retained its number one spot for Long Haul Americas.

How to fly these top airlines more often

Flying with the best of the best can be a rewarding experience in and of itself, but traveling with these top airlines can be even more valuable when you book travel using some of the best travel credit cards and airline rewards.

Several credit card issuers partner with these popular carriers, giving you the opportunity to snag nearly free flights aboard many of these award-winning airlines with the points you accrue from your everyday spending.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points, for instance, all transfer to Singapore Airlines, allowing you to use points to enjoy the airline’s impressive first-class suites. Points from all three credit card rewards programs transfer at a 1:1 ratio, which means your points won’t lose any value in the transfer.

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Matt Miczulski Matt Miczulski is a personal finance writer specializing in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on MoneyDoneRight and Recruiter.com.