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Heading Overseas? These Are the Best International Airlines for Your Money Now

Money logo Money 3/17/2017 Kerri Anne Renzulli and Megan Leonhardt

10. Spirit: Look no further than <a href="https://www.spirit.com/Default.aspx">Spirit</a> if you're trying to score the lowest possible airfare. Like Frontier, Spirit is a discount airline that offers incredibly cheap flights. And we're talking dirt cheap, like $250 for a round trip flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., which is why it came in at the very top in terms of price points. Unfortunately, the airline came in dead last on all other criteria. 'Spirit took the bottom spot on the list thanks to last-place rankings for cabin comfort, customer satisfaction, frequent flier perks and on-time arrivals, plus zero lounges,' says The Points Guy. Having to worry about whether you'll arrive on time and make you next flight is incredible stressful. Follow these <a href="http://www.rd.com/advice/travel/stress-free-travel/1/">12 golden rules for stress-free air travel</a> (as well as considering booking a flight on one of the higher-rated airlines.) These Are the Best—and Worst—Airlines in America Before you strap yourself into an airplane seat for eight-plus hours, you want to be sure you’ll have a pleasant experience at a decent price. To find the airlines that deliver both, MONEY ranked the most popular international carriers based on average fares, cost per kilometer, on-time arrivals, and customer satisfaction ratings for comfort, food and drink, entertainment, service, amenities, and overall value. (Read all of MONEY’s Best in Travel 2017.)

OVERALL WINNER

Asia Pacific: Singapore Airlines

Our overall winner for the second year in a row—and Travel + Leisure’s No. 1 international carrier for 21 years—dominates thanks to its standout service, wide variety of entertainment options, and excellent in-flight dining. “Singapore puts a huge emphasis on quality of in-flight experience, and you always hear that people want to fly them again,” says Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper. Such premium treatment won’t cost you a fortune: Each kilometer flown costs 10¢ on average—cheaper than more than half of all international carriers, according to online trip planner Rome2rio. Because Singapore partners with major domestic airlines like JetBlue, United, and Virgin America, you can still earn loyalty points with your regular carrier.

REGIONAL WINNERS

Middle East/Africa: Qatar Airways

This Doha-based airline, our No. 2 pick overall, earns top marks when it comes to seat comfort and entertainment, which includes smartphone connectivity and more than 3,000 viewing options. If that’s not enough to keep young travelers occupied, kids can also choose from dozens of toys and board games to play with in-flight. For the grownups, Qatar offers a custom wine list that changes every three months. Its cost per kilometer is the same as Singapore’s and 7¢ below the average rate of our international airline pool. JetBlue and American fliers can earn loyalty points.

Europe: Norwegian Airlines

As a budget carrier, Norwegian may lack the many amenities and luxe feel of our top two international airlines, but it outperforms them on price. The average cost of a roundtrip flight is $410, down 13% from last year, according to Hopper. You can expect the price to go down again this year, as Norwegian announced it will begin new low-cost transatlantic flights in June from airports in New York and Connecticut. Though you will have to pony up for food and bags, a majority of travelers find the tradeoffs worthwhile, according to reviews collected by SkyTrax: The carrier earned an almost perfect score in the site’s value-for money category and won world’s best longhaul low-cost airline.

Latin America: Copa Airlines

Headquartered in Panama, Copa flies to more than 30 destinations across the Americas and the Caribbean. With an 89% on-time rate, according to FlightStats, Copa offers a reliable experience. (More than half of international carriers score below 78% on timeliness.) According to Hopper, the cost of a roundtrip fare dropped 11.4% from 2016 to 2017, bringing the average to $421. That’s the third-lowest among all of the international carriers MONEY ranked.

THE FULL RANKINGS

1. Singapore Airlines

2. Qatar Airways

3. Emirates

4. Japan Airlines (JAL)

5. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

6. Qantas Airways

7. EVA Air

8. Norwegian

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

10. Thai Airways

11. Korean Air

12. Aeroflot

13. Aegean Airlines

14. Lufthansa

15. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

16. Royal Jordanian

17. Air New Zealand

18. Etihad Airways

19. China Southern Airlines

20. Malaysia Airlines

21. Ryanair

22. Swiss

23. Asiana Airlines

24. AirAsia

25. Vietnam Airlines

26. Aer Lingus

27. easyJet

28. Turkish Airlines

29. Virgin Australia

30. Virgin Atlantic

31. Finnair

32. China Airlines

33. Austrian Airlines

34. Gulf Air

35. Jet Airways

36. Copa Airlines

37. South African Airways

38. Air Tahiti Nui

39. Iberia

40. Avianca

41. Air Berlin

42. Fiji Airways

43. Icelandair

44. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)

45. SilkAir

46. LOT Polish Airlines

47. Air France

48. Caribbean Airlines

49. Air China

50. WestJet

WATCH: This airline is bringing back free meals on some flights

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