RANKED: The 10 best European Airlines

  • Consumer aviation website Skytrax releases an annual ranking of the best airlines in the world.
  • For 2017, five European carriers made it into the top 20.

Every year, consumer aviation website Skytrax releases its list of the best airlines in the world. Even though airlines from Asia traditionally dominate the Skytrax rankings, European carriers have managed to hold their own amid some tough competition.

In fact, the last non-Asian airline to take home Skytrax’s Airline of the Year award was British Airways in 2006.

Last year, five European airlines managed to make it into the top 20 with two in the top 10.

The Skytrax rankings are based on the impressions of 19.87 million travelers from 105 different countries. The survey, which covered more than 325 airlines, measured 49 parameters ranging from boarding procedures to seat comfort to the quality of service.

Here’s a closer look at the 10 best airlines in Europe.


10. Virgin Atlantic Airways

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Flickr/Tomás Del Coro

Overall rank: 33

Why it’s awesome: Virgin Atlantic is the crown jewel of Sir Richard Branson’s aviation holdings. However, with a 49% stake in the airline, Delta is actually VA’s largest single shareholder. Virgin Group retains only 20% of the airline’s shares. But VA’s service, product, and ambiance are all Branson. From the purple mood lighting all the way to the stylish crew uniforms.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


9. Aeroflot Russian Airlines

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REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Overall rank: 30

Why it’s awesome: While Aeroflot’s image in the west may be that of grizzled pilots wrangling old Soviet machinery through the treacherous Russian winter. In reality, things are very different. These days the new Aeroflot operates a fleet of new Airbus and Boeing jets. For 2017, Skytrax named Aeroflot the Best Airline in Eastern Europe.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


8. Norwegian

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Norwegian

Overall rank: 28

Why it’s awesome: Norwegian has been one of the most disruptive forces in commercial aviation over the past 10 years. The Scandinavian airline also helped reintroduce no-frills economy flying to the skies over the North Atlantic. This year, it was named the Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe by Skytrax. Norwegian also took home the prize for the World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


7. Finnair

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Finnair

Overall rank: 25

Why it’s awesome: Finland’s national airline moved up two spots this year to finish as the 25th best airline in the world. In addition, the Helsinki-based carrier was named Best Airline in Northern Europe by Skytrax. Finnair operates an all-Airbus mainline fleet while its regional operations feature aircraft from Bombardier and Embraer.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


6. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

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KLM

Overall rank: 22

Why it’s awesome: KLM is the oldest continuously operating airlines in the world. It’s also the Dutch half of the Air France-KLM conglomerate. The Amsterdam-based carrier is in the middle of a major fleet overhaul with the addition of new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as well as a new World Business Class cabin.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


5. Air France

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Air France

Overall rank: 18

Why it’s awesome: Even though Air France’s resurgence took a slight step backward this year, the airline’s service and quality remains top notch. Over the past couple of years, the carrier has suffered through a series of labor and financial issues. However, this hasn’t stopped Air France from rolling out an impressive lineup of new product offerings, including the impressive “La Premiere” first-class suites.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


4. Austrian Airlines

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Flickr/Austrian Airlines

Overall rank: 17

Why it’s awesome: In 2017, the Lufthansa-owned carrier, once again, took home the prize for Best Airline Staff Service in Europe. The Austrian flag carrier boasts a fleet of newly renovated long-haul Boeing 767-300ER and 777-200 jets flying out of its base in Vienna.

Economy fliers gave the Star Alliance member high marks for its efficient and effective service, as well as for the wealth of onboard dining and entertainment options.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


3. Swiss International Air Lines

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Flickr/Aero Icarus

Overall rank: 14

Why it’s awesome: Swiss International Air Lines emerged in 2002 from the remnants of the now defunct Swissair and is now a member of the Lufthansa corporate family. In 2016, the Basel-based carrier became the first in the world to operate the next generation Bombardier C-Series airliner.

Though some fliers found economy seat comfort to be lacking, most praised the cabin crew for its friendly service and the airline for its wide assortment of complimentary adult beverages.

Plus, the complimentary Swiss chocolate is always a fan favorite.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


2. Turkish Airlines

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Airbus/Turkish Airlines

Overall rank: 12

Why it’s awesome: Turkish Airlines is the flag carrier of Turkey and has its main hub at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. The airline, with its ability to fly to over 100 countries and over 200 cities worldwide, hopes to turn its home base into a global transit hub.

Even though political unrest and security concerns have made life more complicated for Turkish Airlines, the carrier’s high-quality service, and product offerings remain unchanged.

Turkish Airlines won awards for Best Business Class Airline Lounge, Best Airline in Southern Europe, Best Business Class Onboard Airline Catering, and Best Business Class Lounge Dining.

Turkish is a member of Star Alliance and had won the Skytrax award for Best Airline in Europe six years in a row before losing the title to Lufthansa this year.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.


1. Lufthansa

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Lufthansa

Overall rank: 7

Why it’s awesome: Europe’s largest airline has surged into the top 10 over the past couple of years. Customers have praised Lufthansa for its exceptional service and overall product quality.

For the most part, Lufthansa’s long-haul service is good, but, for the best results, it would be wise to aim for the fleet’s newer A380 superjumbos and 748-8 Intercontinental jumbo jets.

In addition to a top-10 finish, the German national airline also took home the prize for Best Airline in Europe and Best First Class Airline Lounge Dining.

See additional airline information at Skytrax.