By Kerri Anne Renzulli and Megan Leonhardt
March 13, 2018

Heading overseas? In most cases, you can expect to be stuck in your seat for far longer than you’d like; you may well also have to splash out more cash than on a domestic trip. Even the best international flights can leave you a bit bored; on the worst, you’ll wind up tired, uncomfortable, and maybe even late.

For those reasons, choosing the right international airline can make all the difference for travelers who will spend a longer time in the air. To find the best international airline for economy travelers, MONEY evaluated 70 of the largest international carriers on factors such as cost and fees, customer experience, and flight performance. We found that Asian airlines dominated the top of the list, largely because of standout performance on customer experience. (Also read The 9 Biggest U.S. Airlines, Ranked From Best to Worst.)

What follows is the best international airline overall, as well as the rest of the top 30; we also highlighted the best international airlines for several separate regions.

A flight attendant serves food and drinks to passengers on board of Singapore Airlines Airbus A380, November 3, 2015.

The Best International Airline: Singapore Airlines

Average price of roundtrip flight: $1,081

Anyone who’s traveled on a Singapore Airlines flight knows the luxury experience that awaits—even in economy class. Renowned for their exceptional in-flight staff and amenities, this airline tops MONEY’s list of best international airlines for the third year in a row; it’s held the top spot on sister publication Travel + Leisure’s world’s best survey for 22 years.

Cabin crew undergo a four-month training process, one of the longest in the industry, which covers everything from etiquette to wine appreciation. Travelers get hot towels before takeoff and personal TVs that offer more than 1,000 movies, TV shows, music options, and games. Even the food has been meticulously crafted: Because cabin pressure can alter how you perceive taste, Singapore tests all dishes first in a simulated pressurized cabin to ensure no flavor is amiss.

One of the best perks of this international airline: the space. On its 777 and A350 planes, there are only nine seats per row—other airlines typically squeeze in 10 on the same aircraft. And premium economy travelers enjoy generous 19.5 inch-wide seats that recline eight inches and have footrests. The price tag may seem like a splurge, but if you factor in the distance traveled, the cost works out to only 11 cents per kilometer, Rome2rio finds—one of the cheapest rates in the industry.

THAI aircraft landing at Hong Kong airport, June 4, 2015.
Sorbis—Shutterstock / Sorbis

2. Thai Airways International

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $796

Asiana Airlines crew members at Incheon International Airport, Incheon, South Korea, June 2017.

3. Asiana Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $862

SilkAir check-in zone at Changi Airport, Singapore, November 7, 2015.

4. SilkAir

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $401

Qatar Airbus A330 at gate in Milan Malpensa international airport, Italy, June 1, 2017.
Stefano Garau—Shutterstock

5. Qatar Airways

**Regional Winner: Middle East
Average price of a roundtrip flight: $989

State-owned Qatar Airways dominates in the Middle East thanks to its top-rated customer service, entertainment, and food offerings. Despite flying to more than 150 destinations across six continents, it also maintains one of the best on-time records.

courtesy of Cathay Pacific Airways

6. Cathay Pacific Airways

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,026

Economy Class seats in A380, Lufthansa Airways
Rolf Bewersdorf Gregor Schlaeger—Lufthansa

7. Lufthansa

**Regional Winner: Europe
Average price of a roundtrip flight: $499

Europe’s largest airline company is also its best. The German airline impresses travelers with its in-flight experience, scoring high on food, seat comfort and entertainment options. Economy fliers will like the free meals and snacks and the wider seats (15.7 inches) offered on long-haul flights.

A Boeing Co. 787-9 Dreamliner passenger aircraft operated by Korean Air Lines Co. stands on the tarmac during a media preview at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.
SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg via Getty Images

8. Korean Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,135


787 KLM airplane
courtesy of KLM

9. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $434

A picture taken on July 6, 2016 during a flight onboard the Swiss International Air Lines' new Bombardier CS 100 passenger jetliner shows the Swiss Alps.
Michael Buholzer—AFP/Getty Images

10. Swiss

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $491

Free WiFi aboard Norwegian Air
courtesy of Norwegian Air

11. Norwegian Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $263

Cabin crew of the Russian airline Aeroflot walk past during the International Paris Airshow at Le Bourget on June 16, 2015.

12. Aeroflot

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $630

Soft toys and a children's meal sit on a economy class seat on board a [f500link]Boeing[/f500link] Co. 777 passenger aircraft, operated by Emirates Airlines, during the 15th Dubai Air Show in November 2017.
Natalie Naccache—Bloomberg via Getty Images

13. Emirates

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,051

Qantas Airways
Brent Winstone—Qantas Airways Limited

14. Qantas Airways

**Regional Winner: Australia/Oceania
Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,227

Australia-based Qantas tops its region thanks to a dip in flight prices, a solid loyalty program, and highly rated inflight service. MONEY’s favorite perk? A self-service snack bar open to anyone in the international economy cabin.

ANA cabin crew in Singapore Changi Airport, September 2016.

15. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,296

Haneda Airport and Mount Fuji on a clear day, Tokyo, Japan, December 14, 2017.
Sakarin Sawasdinaka—Shutterstock

16. Japan Airlines (JAL)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,202

Aegean Airlines
Gousse Herve—Masterfilms

17. Aegean Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $278

Interior of a China Southern Airlines Company Limited (CSN) commercial airplane, Guangzhou, China, May 10, 2015.

18. China Southern Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $978

Toronto's Island airport home to Porter airlines, is right outside the city center.

19. Porter Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $321

Flight attendant serving breakfast onboard a Boeing 737, Turkish Airlines. Tokyo, Japan, April 8, 2017.

20. Turkish Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $614

Various food items available on the EVA Air Hello Kitty Shining Star Jet - Inaugural Event at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on June 19, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey—Getty Images for Sanrio

21. EVA Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $923

Airbus A319 of Czech Airlines at Vaclav Havel Prague Airport in the Czech Republic in December 21, 2014.
Jaromir Chalabala—Shutterstock

22. CSA Czech Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $258

Airplane Air New Zealand take-off from Queenstown, August 16, 2014.
Petr Sommer Photography—Shutterstock

23. Air New Zealand

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,253

Royal Jordanian Airbus A319 lands at Frankfurt airport, September 24, 2015.
Vytautas Kielaitis—Shutterstock

24. Royal Jordanian

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $669

Customers wait to drop their luggage at the Aer Lingus Group check-in desks in the departure hall at Dublin Airport.
Aidan Crawley—Bloomberg via Getty Images

25. Aer Lingus

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $794

ANTILLES, PHILIPSBURG / ST. MAARTEN (SAINT-MARTIN) - PRINCESS JULIANA AIRPORT. AUGUST 15, 2017. Passenger plane Boeing 737 of COPA Airlines flies over the Maho Beach and tourists.

26. COPA Airlines

**Regional Winner: Latin America
Average price of a roundtrip flight: $815

If you want to arrive on time, fly COPA. The Panama-based airline ranks as the most punctual in Latin America and the fourth most punctual in the world, according to FlightStats and the Official Airline Guide.

Etihad Airways unveils its first Airbus A380 aircraft in Abu Dhabi before it enters passenger service, with economy seats on the lower deck, December 18, 2014
First Class Photography—Shutterstock

27. Etihad Airways

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,010

SAS Lounges
Benjamin Lund—SAS

28. SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $312

El Al Boeing 767 at Stuttgart Airport, July 27, 2016

29. El Al Israel Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $587

World Traveller catering, British Airways
Miles Willis—British Airways

30. British Airways

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $441


The pool of airlines considered included 70 of the largest international airlines. Criteria included average fare costs, year-over-year ticket pricing changes, and cost per kilometer for passengers; number of on-time arrivals; and customer satisfaction ratings for seat comfort, food and drink, entertainment, service, amenities, and overall value. Data providers included FlightStats, J.D. Power, Rome2rio, SkyTrax, and Travel + Leisure. MONEY ranked the top 30 carriers overall, but also highlighted the best international airline in each region.

With additional reporting by Sergei Klebnikov


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