These are the 7 ‘World Class’ airlines excelling in customer service, safety, and sustainability — see the full list



The front of a Qatar Airways plane.

A Qatar Airways jet arriving from Doha, Qatar, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, in January 2015.AP Photo/Michael Probst, File

  • The Airline Passenger Experience Association has named seven airlines as “World Class.”

  • Three are Middle Eastern carriers, two are Asian, and two are European.

  • The rankings were based on passenger surveys and professional audits regarding service, safety, and sustainability.

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) has dropped its 2022 “World Class” airline awards and Middle Eastern carriers made up nearly half the list.

APEX, which is a non-profit and one of the world’s largest international airline associations, revealed its yearly rankings for the best airlines in the world in terms of safety, sustainability, and service, focusing heavily on the customer experience.

According to APEX, the awards are determined by a year of collecting surveys from passengers that rate the inflight experience over several flights in each class, including economy, business, and first. This is combined with professionals who audit each carrier’s product and rate appropriately. The result determines which airlines qualify for the “World Class” award, and this year, seven made the cut.

Of the seven, three are airlines from the Middle East, two are from Asia, and two are from Europe, with no US carriers making the list. The winners excel in all three categories, with service being the most tangible factor, like cabin seating and inflight meals.

Here’s are the top seven “World Class” airlines in the industry, according to APEX. The carriers are listed alphabetically.


Emirates Airbus A380


Dubai-based Emirates has historically excelled in passenger service, having taken the No. 4 spot in Skytrax’s World’s Top 100 Airlines this year. APEX awarded Emirates with the best inflight entertainment product, and noted the carrier has a “quality first mindset,” “high standards,” and an “engaging crew.”

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines.EQRoy/Shutterstock

Japan Airlines also fared well with Skytrax this year, taking the No. 5 spot, so it is not surprising to see it make APEX’s list. Skytrax awarded JAP with three awards, while APEX said it has “outstanding hospitality” and consistently good service from warm and welcoming cabin crews.


KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.Fasttailwind/

Netherlands-based KLM did not make Skytrax’s top 10 this year, sitting at No. 16, but it received high praise from APEX for its sustainability. According to the organization, KLM is a leader in reducing its environmental impact and has “remarkable efficiency and engagement” on its short-haul flights.

Qatar Airways

A Qatar Airways plane.

Qatar Airways.AP Photo/Michael Probst

Qatar continues to collect awards this year after taking the No. 1 spot for Skytrax and coming in at No. 2 on Business Travelers’ best airlines list. APEX noted Qatar’s onboard dining, praising its “impeccable dish presentations” and “distinctive design.” The organization also said the airline had a spacious, high-quality cabin.


Saudia Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Guangzhou airport (CAN) in China

Saudia.Markus Mainka

While Saudia did not make Skytrax’s top 20 list, it fared well with APEX’s survey participants and professional auditors. The biggest takeaways are the company’s commitment to safety, innovation, hospitality, and dining experience. Saudia is one of the few airlines in the world that offers inflight chefs to personalize meals.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER

Singapore Airlines.Thiago B Trevisan/

Singapore Airlines is consistently named a world-class airline by organizations like Skytrax and the Business Traveller, and APEX is no different. The association complimented Singapore on its consistent service, customer retention, and “notable brand integrity.”

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines.

Turkish Airlines.Markus Mainka/

Although Turkish did not rank in Skytrax’s top 10 best airlines list, it exceeded APEX’s standards. The company is recognized for its high level of safety, generosity, brand integrity, and cuisine. Like Saudia, Turkish offers inflight chefs to improve the inflight meal experience for premium passengers.

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