Qatar Airlines is named the world’s best airline, putting pitiful US carriers to shame

Flying the Gulf skies is just plain dreamier.
Flying the Gulf skies is just plain dreamier.
Image: AP / Francois Mori
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Qatar airlines has been named 2015’s best airline in the world in the annual top 100 airline ranking of airline consumer website Skytrax.

No wonder. The airline is known for lavishing first-class passengers with designer amenities and meals prepared by Michelin-starred chefs, as well as for equipping a lavish terminal in Doha with massage rooms, saunas, and jacuzzis. Its economy cabins have also been praised for comfortable seats and ample baggage allowances, particularly for long flights.

Skytrax says its rankings are based on independent surveys of more than 18 million passengers from 100 countries. The website also named Qatar the best airline in the Middle East in its regional ranking.

While Asian airlines dominated the top 20, the Middle East’s three major carriers all made the top 10. Not one American airline made the top 20. The best spot snagged by a US-owned airline was Virgin America, which ranked 26th. Delta, JetBlue, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Eagle, and American Airlines all fell much further down the list.

Qatar’s top marks should be a warning to US and European carriers, which have repeatedly called on their governments to reconsider trade agreements with the major Middle Eastern carriers—Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways,and Emirates.

In March, American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines submitted a 55-page report estimating that subsidies to gulf carriers totaled $42 billion since 2004. Gulf airlines have retorted that American airlines enjoy their own forms of protectionism. 

In any case, attempts by US carriers to gussy up their customer offerings with pittances like plush pillows and espresso machines, have yet to pay off.

Here are the top 50 in the Skytrax rankings: