The World’s 10 Safest Airlines (Number 1 Even Had a Cuddly, Reassuring Mascot)

Airplanes are the safest way to travel, the old adage tells us. Not to mention they are the fastest way to travel for most people. While air turbulence can be frightening to some, aero engineers have already accounted for rough skies. The reality is that turbulence is extremely unlikely to cause a plane crash. Therefore, most airlines are perfectly safe.

However, not all airlines are created equally. Some airlines are just safer than others. Airline Ratings has taken the painstaking process to determine which airlines are the safest, and CNBC recently summarized that report. The report evaluates serious incident history, fleet age, and countless government audits using the same standards every year. Here are the results.

The safest airlines worldwide

Flight attendants checking safety precautions in an airplane cabin before takeoff
Flight attendants checking safety precautions before takeoff | JULIETTE MICHEL/AFP via Getty Images

British Airways

British Airways is a recognizable brand to even casual flyers. Surprisingly, it is only the second-largest U.K. carrier. easyJet is a larger airline, although it isn’t as well known outside of Europe. 

Cathay Pacific

This Hong Kong-based airline is the fourth largest in the world based on revenue.  The company has a distinctive dark teal logo. While well known across Asia, it has a minimal presence in the U.S. At the time of this article, Cathay only has five passenger destinations in the United States. 

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has one of the most wholesome logos, which is painted on its tailfins. A smiling Inuit man greets you onto its safe plane. Despite its name, the company is actually headquartered in Seattle, and all of Alaska Airlines’ hub cities are on the Pacific coast.

Etihad Airlines

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways is one of the smaller airlines on the list. This safe airline is well known throughout the Middle East, but it will be harder to fly with Etihad in North America.  Etihad only has three passenger flights in the United States. 

Eva Air

This Taiwanese-based aircraft carrier is known for being a luxury airline. We recommend visiting one of its airport lounges if you ever get the chance. However, it has a minimal presence in the U.S., only having passenger flights to six cities. 

Emirates

Another UAE company makes the list of the safest airlines. The company was once not well known in the U.S., so the company led a massive marketing campaign that featured Jennifer Aniston. Headquartered in Dubai, it has 12 passenger flights to U.S. cities. 

Singapore Airlines

As you may have guessed, this airline is headquartered in Singapore. Like others on this list, it also has a small presence in the U.S., only carrying passengers to six cities in America. 

Air New Zealand

It’s no surprise that Air New Zealand is one of the safest airlines. The island nation is virtually inaccessible without air travel unless you like long boat journeys. The airline is focused around the Pacific Rim, with only six passenger flights in the United States. 

Qatar Airways

Another airline from a wealthy gulf state makes the list. Its logo is a distinctive oryx that is painted on most of the tailfins. The company has 12 passenger flights in U.S. cities. 

Qantas

This Australian airline is the third largest air carrier in the world. Sadly, all of its U.S. flights have been terminated or suspended due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Australia continues to have stringent international travel restrictions due to the coronavirus, as reported by The National

Only one U.S. airline made the safest airlines list

While Alaskan Airlines was the only American air carrier to make the top 10 safety list, the U.S. is still one of the safest places to fly. If the list were expanded to the top 20, there would be many more American airfare companies. U.S.-based airlines ranked between 11-20 include Hawaiian, Southwest, Delta, American, and United. Elsewhere, Forbes made a list of the most dangerous airlines, and no American company made the list.

Why Qantas such a safe airline?

Qantas has long held the reputation of being one of the safest airlines. In the 1988 movie Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman’s character said he would only fly Qantas for its safety. The company maintains its reputation by developing new safety initiatives and technologies. Some examples include improved pilot to air traffic control communication, real-time engine monitoring, and GNSS enhanced landing, per Travel and Leisure

Qantas fully embraces its Australian heritage. Its modern-day logo is a kangaroo, which is painted on most tailfins. In the past, they had live koalas as mascots that appeared in advertising campaigns. In 2015, lucky passengers got to travel with koalas as they were transported to a new zoo, as reported by Global News

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