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This Is the Absolute Best International Airline Now

Money logo Money 3/13/2018 Kerri Anne Renzulli

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.

© Sorbis—Shutterstock

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.

a plane flying over a body of water with a mountain in the background: THAI aircraft landing at Hong Kong airport, June 4, 2015. © Sorbis—Shutterstock / Sorbis THAI aircraft landing at Hong Kong airport, June 4, 2015.

2. Thai Airways International

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $796

3. Asiana Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $862

a group of people standing in front of a store: SilkAir check-in zone at Changi Airport, Singapore, November 7, 2015. © Sorbis—Shutterstock SilkAir check-in zone at Changi Airport, Singapore, November 7, 2015.

4. SilkAir

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $401

a airplane that is sitting on a runway at an airport: Qatar Airbus A330 at gate in Milan Malpensa international airport, Italy, June 1, 2017. © Stefano Garau—Shutterstock Qatar Airbus A330 at gate in Milan Malpensa international airport, Italy, June 1, 2017.

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.

a tray of food © 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 Economy Class seats in A380, Lufthansa Airways

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 close up of a plane: 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 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.

8. Korean Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,135

a blue and white airplane in the sky: 787 KLM airplane © courtesy of KLM 787 KLM airplane

9. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $434

a view of a car covered in snow: 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 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.

10. Swiss

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $491

a man wearing a suit and tie: Free WiFi aboard Norwegian Air © courtesy of Norwegian Air Free WiFi aboard Norwegian Air

11. Norwegian Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $263

a couple of people that are standing together in uniform: Cabin crew of the Russian airline Aeroflot walk past during the International Paris Airshow at Le Bourget on June 16, 2015. © MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images 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

a group of stuffed animals sitting on a table: 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 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.

13. Emirates

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,051

a pile of luggage sitting on the snow: Qantas Airways © Brent Winstone—Qantas Airways Limited Qantas Airways

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.

a group of people standing in front of a store: ANA cabin crew in Singapore Changi Airport, September 2016. © Sorbis—Shutterstock ANA cabin crew in Singapore Changi Airport, September 2016.

15. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,296

16. Japan Airlines (JAL)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,202

a plane flying over a body of water: Aegean Airlines © Gousse Herve—Masterfilms Aegean Airlines

17. Aegean Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $278

a group of people in a car: Interior of a China Southern Airlines Company Limited (CSN) commercial airplane, Guangzhou, China, May 10, 2015. © Shutterstock 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

a large white building: Toronto's Island airport home to Porter airlines, is right outside the city center. © Alamy Toronto's Island airport home to Porter airlines, is right outside the city center.

19. Porter Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $321

a man sitting at a table in front of a window: Flight attendant serving breakfast onboard a Boeing 737, Turkish Airlines. Tokyo, Japan, April 8, 2017. © Alamy 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

a box filled with different types of food on a table: 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 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.

21. EVA Air

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $923

a large air plane on a runway at an airport: Airbus A319 of Czech Airlines at Vaclav Havel Prague Airport in the Czech Republic in December 21, 2014. © Jaromir Chalabala—Shutterstock Airbus A319 of Czech Airlines at Vaclav Havel Prague Airport in the Czech Republic in December 21, 2014.

22. CSA Czech Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $258

a plane flying in the air: Airplane Air New Zealand take-off from Queenstown, August 16, 2014. © Petr Sommer Photography—Shutterstock Airplane Air New Zealand take-off from Queenstown, August 16, 2014.

23. Air New Zealand

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,253

a airplane that is flying in the air: Royal Jordanian Airbus A319 lands at Frankfurt airport, September 24, 2015. © Vytautas Kielaitis—Shutterstock Royal Jordanian Airbus A319 lands at Frankfurt airport, September 24, 2015.

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 Customers wait to drop their luggage at the Aer Lingus Group check-in desks in the departure hall at Dublin Airport.

25. Aer Lingus

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $794

a large air plane flying in the sky: 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. © Shutterstock 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.

a room filled with furniture and a box on a table: 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 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

27. Etihad Airways

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $1,010

28. SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $312

a large air plane on a runway: El Al Boeing 767 at Stuttgart Airport, July 27, 2016 © Alamy El Al Boeing 767 at Stuttgart Airport, July 27, 2016

29. El Al Israel Airlines

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $587

a man standing in front of a car: World Traveller catering, British Airways © Miles Willis—British Airways World Traveller catering, British Airways

30. British Airways

Average price of a roundtrip flight: $441

Methodology

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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