The Safest—and Least Safe—Airlines of 2023

New data from Airline Ratings can help anticipant travels make safe, smart flight choices

In 2023, Americans are planning to travel abroad in a huge way. According to Travel Agent Central, over 90% of insured travel purchased for 2023 is for international destinations, finally matching pre-pandemic levels. Experts at CNBC are calling it “revenge travel,” a trend spurred by the pent-up stir-craziness born out of precautions against COVID-19. The most-cited destinations include sites in Europe, and travel to Asia has increased by a whopping 8% from last year. We bet you’re probably brainstorming your own bucket-list trips, too.

With such exciting upcoming trips, many smart travelers are thinking about the safety of their air travel, even more so than its cost. Fortunately, Airline Ratings, a site devoted to monitoring the safety of hundreds of airlines, just released their yearly report on the safest airlines in 2023, so readers can feel confident in booking the safest flights possible.

How did Airline Ratings determine safety?

Airline Rating’s safety rating criteria examines 385 different airlines using a variety of safety metrics from the past five years. That analysis includes data on crashes and other pilot-related incidents, as well as an airline’s COVID compliance, pilot training programs, fleet age and performance on audits from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Each airline has the opportunity to earn up to seven stars for their determined safety.

Airline Ratings notes that any incidents that were determined not to be the fault of the pilot or airline are not factored into safety ratings. Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas explains: “[A]ll airlines have incidents every day, and many are aircraft or engine manufacture issues, not airline operational problems. It is the way the flight crew handles these incidents that determines a good airline from an unsafe one.”

So, what are the safest airlines?

Teddy bear in first class seatPeter Dazeley/Getty Images

Airline Ratings has ranked the top twenty safest airlines as follows.

  • Quantas (Australia)
  • Air New Zealand (New Zealand)
  • Etihad Airways (United Arab Emirates)
  • Qatar Airways (Qatar)
  • Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
  • TAP Air Portugal (Portugal)
  • Emirates (United Arab Emirates
  • Alaska Airlines (U.S.)
  • EVA Air (Taiwan)
  • Virgin Australia/Atlantic (Australia)
  • Cathay Pacific Airlines (Hong Kong)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (U.S.)
  • SAS (Sweden)
  • United Airlines (U.S.)
  • Lufthansa/Swiss Group (Germany)
  • Finnair (Finland)
  • British Airways (U.K.)
  • KLM (Netherlands)
  • American Airlines (U.S.)
  • Delta Airlines (U.S.)

What are the least safe airlines?

Airline Ratings does not officially release a list of the least safe airlines. However, numerous airlines have received one-star ratings, and those at the bottom of the one-star list are as follows:

  • Nepal Airlines (Nepal)
  • Airblue (Pakistan)
  • Sriwijawa Air (Indonesia)
  • Blue Wing (Suriname)
  • Pakistan International Airlines (Pakistan)
  • Air Algerie (Algeria)

A list published on SimpleFlying.com also included SCAT (Kazakhstan) and Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran).

Key takeaways

These lists are a powerful reminder to American travelers to consider internationally owned airlines when traveling globally. While the most popular airlines in the U.S. are American, Delta, and Southwest Airlines, most readers traveling to the most popular destinations cited for 2023 have the option to take that country’s airline instead. With this in mind, readers may want to opt for safety over familiarity.

Additionally, for those planning to travel domestically, it may be worth a little extra in airfare to fly on Alaska, Hawaiian, United, American, or Delta Airlines. Regardless of where 2023 may take you, we hope you enjoy safe trips around the world as you set off to explore new horizons.

Sources:

  • Travel Agent Central: “Stats: 2023 Will Mark Full Recovery of International Travel”
  • Airline Ratings: “Top Twenty Safest Airlines for 2023”
  • Traveller: “World’s safest (and least safe) airlines for 2023: Qantas reclaims top spot in global list”
  • Simple Flying: “Airlines At The Bottom Of The World’s 2022 Safest List”

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