A popular Australian aviation website is out with its annual rankings for the world’s top airlines in 2021. While the winner is not a surprise, some of the rankings have left me scratching my head…like ranking United Airlines the #8 airline in the world.

Top 20 Airlines In 2021? There Are Some Surprises…

Here’s the list of “top 20” airlines according to AirlineRatings.com:

  1. Qatar Airways

  2. Air New Zealand

  3. Singapore Airlines

  4. Qantas

  5. Emirates

  6. Cathay Pacific

  7. Virgin Atlantic

  8. United Airlines

  9. EVA Air

  10. British Airways

  11. Lufthansa

  12. ANA

  13. Finnair

  14. Japan Air Lines (JAL)

  15. KLM

  16. Hawaiian Airlines

  17. Alaska Airlines

  18. Virgin Australia

  19. Delta Air Lines

  20. Etihad Airways

I concur with much of this list, but I’m still trying to figure out how United Airlines (which has not made the top 20 in years past) has suddenly eclipsed airlines like EVA, ANA, and JAL.

I get that United is operating a lot more flights. I also understand that United has a great bedding in business class, a superb route network, and is investing in new airplanes. But how did United rise so quickly so fast?

Leaping up the rankings to eighth spot in the Top Twenty is Chicago-based United Airlines which has stunned the aviation world with its huge commitments to supersonic, subsonic, and electric aircraft to rejuvenate its fleet and offer passengers the very best in comfort and eco-technology.

Hats off to the United PR team, folks. These new contracts for electric and supersonic aircraft have stirred huge amounts of (positive) media attention. It’s frankly amazing how the world “supersonic” and “electric” led to such favorable coverage across the world.

In reality, the contracts are loose and while I’m certainly not calling them purely a PR stunt, United saw great value in the style over the substance.

Finally, I know Etihad is just a shell of its former self, but #20?


The new AirlineQuality list is out. While Qatar Airways scoring first place is hardly a surprise, I was quite surprised to see United rank so high. Kudos, I guess?

What are your thoughts on the top 20 list? What is your favorite airline in 2021?

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