How Do Airlines Achieve 5 Star Skytrax Ratings?

In today’s competitive airline market, a carrier’s reputation can count for a lot. Many city pairings worldwide see service from several different airlines, giving passengers an interesting but sometimes difficult choice to make. With this in mind, UK consultancy company Skytrax has established a rating system based on a scale of one to five stars. But what must an airline do in order to achieve the top ranking?

Korean Air A380
Korean Air became the latest five-star airline in December 2020. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

What does a five-star rating demand?

The honor of being considered a five-star airline is a rare one, with Skytrax typically only bestowing it upon its 10 highest-rated carriers. It explains that:

The staff service or product standards must be either meeting or setting global best practice for the item under evaluation. For product analysis, this is a clear, tangible item, and, for service assessment, we look for all aspects of excellence support by true consistency.”

In terms of what the accolade represents, Skytrax adds that the rating recognizes:

“… very high standards of both Airport and Onboard Product provided by an airline to their customers, together with consistent and high standards of front-line staff service across both airport and onboard service environments.”

How Do Airlines Achieve 5 Star Skytrax Ratings?
Singapore Airlines is one of the longest-standing five-star airlines. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Which airlines currently hold five stars?

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Skytrax has elected to maintain the validity of March 2020’s ratings for this year. This prevents carriers from losing stars due to circumstances out of their control. However, airlines have been able to increase their ratings, with Korean Air becoming the latest member of the five-star club in December 2020.

As carriers cannot lose stars at present, this saw the number of five-star airlines grow to 11. The remaining 10 carriers with Skytrax’s most prestigious accolade are as follows.

  • All Nippon Airways (ANA) – since 2013.
  • Asiana Airlines – since 2007.
  • Cathay Pacific – 2001-2002, 2004, and since 2006.
  • EVA Air – since 2016.
  • Garuda Indonesia – since 2014.
  • Hainan Airlines – since 2010.
  • Japan Airlines – since 2018.
  • Lufthansa – since 2017.
  • Qatar Airways – since 2006.
  • Singapore Airlines – 2001-2002, 2004, and since 2006.
Hong Kong, Singapore, Travel Bubble, Mandatory Vaccine
Cathay Pacific has enjoyed multiple spells as a five-star airline. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

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Former five-star airlines

In addition to the current crop of five-star airlines, Skytrax has also bestowed this accolade on several other carriers in years gone by. Interestingly, of the six former five-star airlines, four first received the rating in 2001. These were as follows.

  • Ansett Australia, 2001-2002.
  • British Airways, 2011.
  • Emirates, 2001.
  • Malaysia Airlines, 2001 and 2005-2013.
Jake Hardiman Etihad Boeing 777 & Emirates Airbus A380 Frankfurt
Both Emirates and Etihad have previously been five-star airlines. Photo: Jake Hardiman | Simple Flying

The other two five-star airlines to no longer hold this status are Etihad Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. In the case of Etihad, it received the rating later than its fellow UAE flag carrier Emirates, but had it for longer. Indeed, it held its five-star rating from 2016 to 2019.

As for Kingfisher Airlines, Skytrax rated the Indian carrier a five-star airline between 2008 and 2010. Along with Ansett Australia, it is one of the two former five-star airlines to have since ceased operations (Ansett in 2002 and Kingfisher in 2013).

How many Skytrax five-star airlines have you flown with? Are they worthy of this accolade based on your journey(s)? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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