The 20 Best Airlines for Customer Service
Whether you fly once a year or zigzag the world weekly, everyone has an opinion about airlines. Here are the 20 best airlines for customer service ranked from first to 20th; the rankings are based upon on-time performance, comfort, food, and how they handle complaints.
“Qatar Airways ranks as the best airline in the world in 2019 because not only does it have high ratings for service quality and claims processing, but it also performs significantly better than most airlines in terms of on-time performance. Qatar Airways delivers passengers to their destinations on time 84 percent of the time,” according to Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, a site dedicated to fighting for and protecting travelers’ rights to compensation for issues such as overbooked and canceled flights, airline strikes, missed connections, and delays. The rankings come from AirHelp’s 2019 report.
Despite what you may hear from the airline’s critics on social media, American Airlines jumped from 23rd last year to 2nd place this year based on AirHelp’s metrics. The U.S.-based carrier “scored highly in claims processing, showing the airline is making an effort to provide a better experience for travelers when their trips don’t go as planned and giving them the compensation they deserve by processing their claims.” The airline’s representatives deal with unfortunate issues like delayed baggage during international travel with a generous reimbursement policy that allows passengers to buy essential clothes and toiletries to bridge the gap until they’re reunited with their suitcases. Having status on American has its perks but there are still things you can get for free on an airplane.
Another huge year-over-year jump sees Aeromexico move from 26th overall to 3rd in AirHelp’s ranking of the best airlines in the world. Like American, Aeromexico excels in claims processing and in quality of service. AirHelp remarks that “it is refreshing to see the high score in claims processing as this airline is putting an emphasis on the fair treatment of passengers, and that has led to strong results in this year’s ranking.”
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
Named one of the world’s most punctual airlines numerous times, SAS also scores high marks for offering free coffee and tea, well-priced youth tickets, and deeply discounted children’s fares. There are also complimentary newspapers and magazines available to peruse in the airline’s free app. Maybe you can only afford an economy ticket but there are ways to make flying economy feel like first class.
If being truly green falls under the customer service umbrella, Qantas is holding open a huge one to keep the earth safe beneath it. The Australian carrier “has launched an ambitious plan to find new ways of recycling, reusing and composting at least three quarters of its general waste by the end of 2021,” says Forbes, “and plans to remove over 100 million single-use plastic items per year from its flights and lounges by the end of 2020.”
LATAM is the parent company for several airlines in South America and, across the board, receives high marks for its onboard products—namely the seats, comfortable planes, and food and beverages served—as well as the overall quality of the cabin staff serving passengers in-flight.
Calgary-based WestJet was just acquired by a private equity firm in a deal that surprised aviation analysts across Canada. Hopefully, the new owners won’t slow down the increase in ranking position thanks to key improvements in on-time performance. WestJet should get you there on time but it’s still helpful to know the best time of day to fly to arrive avoid delays.
This niche regional carrier based in Luxembourg serves much of Europe well by offering reasonable fares with a free checked piece of luggage and not skimping on service during short journeys. Travel site GodSaveThePoints.com notes that even in an economy seat on a 55-minute flight, homemade sandwiches and glasses of Brut were offered complimentary.
Curiously, AirHelp notes that “Austrian Airlines is one of the only top airlines to drop in rank this year, but the carrier still performed well in all key areas—on-time performance, service quality, and claim processing—and remains in the top 10.”
Emirates has a robust in-flight wine program to help you fully unwind during your trip—and they take good care of kids too. According to Emirates flight attendant Lauren Guilfoyle, “toys and goodie bags are available on each flight to inspire the greatest imaginations and keep kids busy so mom and dad can relax!” If all else fails, there are stellar screen-time options with over 150 channels, including 50 Disney movies, 100 video games, and plenty of music, ready to save the day.
This British airline flying eight million passengers a year to 81 airports across the UK and Europe is ranked as the safest low-cost carrier in the world. Flybe also ranks high in on-time performance and earned the top ranking last year in London Heathrow Airport’s “Fly Green and Quiet” initiative.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
This Netherlands-based airline is proving reliable and consistent, having come in 11th in AirHelp’s 2018 ranking and only dropping down slightly to 12th this year. The reason for the maintained success is due to planes consistently taking off and landing on time, attentive in-flight service, and swift claim processing in the rare case that something goes awry.
According to TravelCodex.com, Singapore Airlines soars thanks to “comfortable seats and attentive service, [as well as] quality on-demand entertainment with hundreds of movies and TV shows. Singapore Airlines makes flying economy class a pleasurable experience.” Other features that set this Far East-based carrier apart are two free pieces of checked luggage on international routes and free seat assignments during the booking process.
Garuda Indonesia made one of the most significant jumps in the rankings, moving up more than 30 spots from 46th place to 14th thanks to “an increase of a minimum of two full points for each piece of criteria used to analyze the AirHelp Score rankings.” In other words, they improved service across the board—on-time performance, service quality (food offered, crew helpfulness, and seat comfort), and claim processing.
According to Business Insider, “Virgin Atlantic’s service, style, and entertainment options lived up to expectations, but its economy-seat comfort left much to be desired.” Thankfully, the food and tea service on Richard Branson’s airline that was once a disruptive force in the industry is still as delicious as ever.
According to AirHelp.com, “United Airlines, like American Airlines, jumped more than 20 spots this year, moving from 37th place in 2018 to 16th in 2019.” Those who fly United regularly may be surprised to see the large U.S.-based carrier on this list, but the boost in its ranking does speak to improved service on the ground and in the air. Maybe they took the hint after being named the airline with the worst reputation in America in 2018.
Delta Air Line
While the second largest carrier in the United States ranks in the mid-teens on AirHelp’s 2019 list, “the Atlanta-based airline earned top marks thanks to its solid on-time record, extensive routes and lounge network,” according to The Points Guy’s 2019 Best U.S. Airlines roundup, which also gives Delta extra credit for bumping only 32 of the 136 million passengers it flew last year.
The middling three-star rating from Official Aviation Guide (OAG) indicates that you may suffer a delay when flying on Turkish Airlines, but whether you are traveling within Turkey or internationally, you still eat well: InFlightFeed.com reports that “meals are always included in the price of your ticket and [are] known to be some of the best tasting meals in the air. The airline places a lot of emphasis on their meal offerings for all passengers. Even on short domestic flights within Turkey a substantial snack and drink are still offered, all meals served on flights are Halal certified, and the airline offers premium customers an in-flight chef on select flights.” Dig in on Turkish Airlines but here are 13 foods to avoid while flying.
AirHelp notes that “Air France moved up its claims processing score this year, enabling it to maintain a strong position among other airlines around the world. Similar to Aeromexico, we are pleased to see that Air France is prioritizing the treatment of its passengers by processing claims efficiently and effectively when something on their trip does not go as planned.”
LOT Polish Airlines
Moving up nine spots from last year’s rankings to break into the top 20, the discount long haul carrier LOT Polish Airlines’ overall score jumped thanks to its efforts in creating a better experience for its passengers while in the air. Still, if a quick scan of passenger reviews is any indication, this budget airline clearly falls into the “you get what you pay for” category of travel experiences, and service quality still leaves a little to be desired. These 20 airlines may have gotten outside approval, but you should still check out the 13 secrets airlines don’t want to tell you.