Ranked: Flying High In The Sky With The World’s Safest Airlines

Airline safety is one of those things most travelers don’t like to think about, but it’s typically in the back of their minds when flying. Passengers should breathe a little easier knowing there are airlines worldwide that are counted among the safest with regard to crew hospitality, internal safety protocols, and adherence to international certification requirements.

Whether flying over the United States or across the pond to Europe or the Middle East, travelers deserve to have peace of mind. And airlines such as Alaska Airlines and Qatar Airways are there to ease any doubt. Keep reading to learn more about the safest airlines in the world.

Qantas

Qantas
Kane/Getty Images
Kane/Getty Images

Qantas is an Australian airline and happens to be the third oldest in the world, so they’ve learned a thing or two about safety over the years. As of 2020, the airline is the top pick for the Safest Airline Ranking for AirlineRatings.com.

According to the website, “[Qantas] has been a leader in the development of Future Air Navigation System; the flight data recorder to monitor plane and later crew performance; automatic landings using Global Navigation Satellite System as well as precision approaches around mountains in the cloud using RNP.” Qantas is now known as the world’s most experienced airline.

Air New Zealand

Crews work on the engine of an Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Air New Zealand is an international and domestic airline based out of Auckland, New Zealand. For anyone wanting to venture to the land down under, this airline is a good and safe choice, especially if you’re looking at a long-haul flight where you’d be flying the newest Boeing model, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (pictured).

This model has had no fatal accidents since its release. AirlineRatings editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas said, “Air New Zealand has been a leader in safety and flight operations for decades and is considered industry best practice.”

EVA Air

EVA Air
SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images
SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

EVA Air, which stands for Evergreen Airways, is a Taiwanese airline and is ranked the third safest airline in the world. This five-star airline is one of the lucky companies that has not lost any of its planes or passengers since the beginning of its operation.

With that statistic, it’s no wonder the EVA Air has graced the Top 20 list for the last seven years. An EVA air representative said, “The airline has a safety culture committed to high standards of discipline, in aviation safety, safety when undergoing repairs, safety on the ground, and occupational safety.”

Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways
Patrick Riviere/Getty Images
Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Etihad Airways is one of three of the Mideast’s big carriers, beginning operations in Abu Dhabi International Airport back in 2003. This airline gives passengers an array of seating options, from the normal economy seating all the way to an “apartment-style” set up, which includes a bed! With various options, safety regulations are top-notch.

The airline even has an on-board nurse, just in case a medical emergency should happen. According to Jan Ritcher, an aviation safety analyst, “From a safety analyst perspective, I determined that Etihad Airways (EY, ETD) has virtually no systemic safety risks.”

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways
Larry French/Getty Images for Qatar Airways
Larry French/Getty Images for Qatar Airways

As one of the world’s most modern fleets, its no wonder Qatar Airways is considered one of the safest. This popular airline has also been graced with a few other big accolades, including Airline of the Year, World’s Best Business Class, Best Business Class Seat, and Best Airline in the Middle East.

The ever-growing airline was even awarded the coveted “Skytrax Airline of the Year,” which is recognized as the highest honor in the industry. It also doesn’t hurt that they introduced a brand-new safety video featuring a lot of famous football (soccer) players, past and present.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines
Pascal Parrot/Getty Images
Pascal Parrot/Getty Images

Being the leading airline for the longest flight puts Singapore Airlines as one of the top ten safest airlines in the world. Flying straight from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey, is no small feat, so the crew and aircraft need to be in the best possible standing to ensure safe passage across the ocean.

With its modern design and its airport that looks more like an amusement park, Singapore is nothing short of thorough when it comes to its buildings and aircraft aesthetic. In essence, everything is structured with such precise detail that there seems to be no room for technical or human error.

Emirates

Emirates
KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images
KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images

Emirates was founded back in 1985 and has since grown into one of the largest airlines by kilometers flown of scheduled revenue passengers. With more than 3,600 flights going in and out of the airport per week, it’s also one of the safest airlines to fly with.

In the entire history of the Dubai-based airline, there has never once been a fatal accident. For a company that is the largest Boeing 777 operator, that says something about the airline’s safety measures!

Alaska Airlines

An Alaska Airlines airplane passes by the skyline of lower Manhattan in New York City
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Located in SeaTac, Washington, Alaska Airlines is one of the major American airlines. When measured by fleet size, the number of destinations offered, and scheduled passengers carried, Alaska is the fifth largest in the country, not to mention it is one of the safest airlines in the world.

Max Tidwell, Alaska Airlines vice president of safety and security, says, “Safety is our top priority and is firmly ingrained in our culture as we are personally committed to the safety of our guests and one another.”

Cathay Pacific

special ceremony held at Hong Kong International Airport.
K. Y. Cheng/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
K. Y. Cheng/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Coming in at number nine is the Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific. Founded back in 1946, Cathay Pacific has grown to become the tenth largest airline in terms of sales. So, they’re clearly doing something right to have passengers returning time and time again. Unfortunately, due to the political climate in Hong Kong, a lot of people are boycotting the otherwise great airline.

Augustus Tang, CEO of Cathay Pacific, said, “As such, more than ever, each one of us carries a personal responsibility to make sure that our reputation for safety and security is untarnished.”

Virgin Australia

flight attendants salute during celebrations
WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images
WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images

Virgin Australia is one of the Virgin brand’s largest airlines by fleet size. In 2011, the airline underwent an entire revamp, introducing a new wide-body aircraft to compete with Qantas, the safest airline in the world as of 2020.

According to the Virgin Australia board, “The safety of our guests, team members, contractors, and visitors is our highest priority. As a result, we actively and systematically manage safety-related risks across our business and strive for continuous improvement in safety practices.” Maybe Virgin Australia will be ranked as the number one safest in a few years!

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines
FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines is the tenth-largest commercial airline in the United States and, being founded in 1929, the oldest. Not only is the airline one of the safest in the world, having no hull losses or fatal accidents in its entire history, it is also known for a few more aspects.

Hawaiian Airlines frequently graces a few different lists, illustrating its excellence. These include the on-time carrier list in the US as well as the airline with the fewest cancellations.

Virgin Atlantic

Sir Richard Branson (center) and crew members of flight VS001 pose for a photograph
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Located in Crawley, England, Virgin Atlantic began as a project between American lawyer, Randolph Fields, and British pilot Alan Hellary. Their idea has since grown into an extravagant fleet of wide-body aircraft and airbusses, transporting passengers all over the world, from Asia to the Middle East and even the Caribbean.

With air traffic going all over, it’s highly important to the Virgin Atlantic team to have top safety measures put in place. The board said, “As an airline, we take safety and security extremely seriously. Our safety and security [program] exceeds statutory requirements, and we always go beyond the basic regulatory standards.”

TAP Air Portugal

TAP Air Portugal pilot
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

The Portugal-based airline TAP Air Portugal was founded 75 years ago in 1945. Today, the airline’s fleet consists of over 100 planes and is considered to be one of the safest airlines in the world. And, as of 2015, the airline had a huge facelift. The airline with the “most handsome crew” in the world added 3,000 new employees to the roster as well as 30 shiny new planes.

With the new renovations to the company, in 2019, the airline saw an 8.2 percent increase in passengers carried. It looks like revamping a few aspects of a business and making things safer really does work to a company’s advantage.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Scandinavian Airlines, usually called SAS, has its main hub out of Copenhagen-Kastrup Airport and has connections to more than 100 destinations around the world. The airline prides itself on being Scandanavian to its core, which means they hold some pretty solid values when it comes to the business.

They say their “DNA” makes it so their first operational priority is the safety of the passengers and crew on board any of the aircraft. Then, it’s punctuality and care. We think we can agree that those are some good values to have while running an airline.

Royal Jordanian

Royal Jordanian
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images
Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Royal Jordanian is the official flag carrier airline of Jordan and operates about 110 departures on a daily basis. With a fleet size of 25 and over 40 destinations worldwide, you best believe the airline is one of the safest in the world.

Most of their pilots are ex-Air Force, so they know how to handle themselves during any tough situation that may occur in the air. It’s no wonder the airline also hasn’t had a major incident in over 35 years.

Swiss International Air Lines

Swiss International Air Lines
MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP via Getty Images
MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP via Getty Images

Swiss International Air Lines was formed after Swissair went bankrupt in 2002. From there, the airline went on the form a fleet of 91 aircraft carriers that service 102 destinations around the world. With all of those destinations, it’s no wonder Swiss has a top-notch crew.

Crew members need to be fluent in both German and French, due to the location of the airline’s main hub in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city. According to the Swiss airline board, “For SWISS Airlines, their relationship with the passengers is one of their priorities.” We don’t know about you, but knowing we’re in good hands typically makes us feel safer flying.

Finnair

The Cabin Crew of Finnair
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

The largest airline in Finland, Finnair, has a fleet of 84 aircraft carriers that fly out to 137 different locations across the globe. The airline is also the sixth oldest in the world to be in continuous operation. So, they’ve definitely fine-tuned their safety procedures throughout the years.

Although the airline is ranked 17th safest in 2020, back in 2018, it was ranked number one, speaking volumes about the crew members and the maintenance of the planes. Finnair also hasn’t had a fatal accident or hull loss since the ’60s.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa
Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images
Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

The German airline Lufthansa has one of the largest fleets in the entire world, with over 700 aircraft carriers that are part of the Lufthansa Group. Servicing over 200 destinations, it’s safe to say the crew and pilots know what they’re doing, especially if the company was able to land on the list of safest airlines in the world.

According to the Lufthansa Group, “[their] success depends primarily on safe and reliable flight operations.” It seems as though this statement definitely holds true for the airline since they haven’t had any major accidents since 1993.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus staff at Dublin Airport
Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Sportsfile/Corbis/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Right after Ryanair, Aer Lingus is the second-largest airline in Ireland, with a fleet of 57 planes and catering to 93 locations around the world. In 2018, Aer Lingus was named the most improved airline by Forbes. And since then, it has graced the Top 20 list for the safest airlines.

Journalist Larry Olmsted has praised the airline for its friendly crew, one of the factors that go into the safest airline list. He said, “the biggest impression that has stuck with me was the staff – the friendliest and warmest of any flight I have ever been on, and that’s no small thing.”

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines plane at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport runway.
Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has a fleet of over 100 planes and is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands. As this airline is the oldest in the world, it’s no big surprise that it landed on the list of safest airlines in the world. They’ve probably learned a thing or two since its founding in 1919.

Airlineratings.com awarded KLM its highest score on seven criteria, including internal safety procedures and adherence to international certification requirements. And, in 2018, KLM was named Europe’s most punctual airline.