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Skytrax World Airline Awards 2013 - results for AFKL and main Euro competitors

Skytrax World Airline Awards 2013 - results for AFKL and main Euro competitors

Old Jun 20, 13, 7:56 pm
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Skytrax World Airline Awards 2013 - results for AFKL and main Euro competitors

The Skytrax World Airline Awards rankings are out for 2013. Full of caveats obviously, although I personally tend to find them "directionally correct". An airline that ranks 3rd in a category may not be better than #4 and/or less good than #2, but it can safely be assumed that it is in the top dozen. Similarly an airline ranking #30 is not a top airline.

As in past years the Far Eastern and GCC3 airlines dominated most rankings.

Selected results:
  • Best airline in the world: Emirates, Qatar, Singapore. Only non-Far East/GCC are Turkish (9) and Qantas (10). Unexpected: Garuda (8)
  • KLM is 37, Air France is on 40.
  • Other selected large European legacy carriers: Lufthansa (11), Swiss (16), British Airways (27), SAS (54), Alitalia (70), Iberia (92)
  • Best alliance: oneworld, Star Alliance, skyteam
  • Best European airline (the full top 10): Turkish, Luthansa, Swiss, British Airways, Aegean, Austrian, Finnair, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Air France
  • Best trans-Atlantic: Lufthansa, Swiss, British Airways, KLM, Air France
  • Best airport services: the top 9 come from the Far East! No GCC. Lufthansa on 10
  • Best First Class: Etihad, ANA, Emirates; only non-FarEast/GCC are Lufthansa (5) and Qantas (6)
  • Best Business Class: Qatar, Oman, Singapore; only non-FarEast/GCC are Swiss (6), Qantas (7) and Turkish (10)
  • Best Premium Economy: Air New Zealand, Qantas, Turkish; more Europeans in the top 10: British Airways (4), Air France (9), Virgin Atlantic (10)
  • Best First Class Lounge: Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar. Only other non-Far East/GCC is British Airways (4)
  • Best Business Class Lounge: Qatar, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic. British Airways on 4, Qantas on 5, Turkish on 10, the rest are Far East or GCC

Top 1 positions for major European airlines in categories where they compete with non-Europeans

Lufthansa - 2
Thomson - 1
Turkish - 1

Top 1 position in categories played out among European carriers, including all the regional winners (Southern Europe, Western Europe, etc)

Turkish - 2
Aegean - 1
Aeroflot - 1
Finnair - 1
KLM - 1
Lufthansa - 1
Norwegian - 1

Note:
Air France - 0
Alitalia - 0
Austrian - 0
British Airways - 0
Iberia - 0
SAS - 0
Swiss - 0

Last edited by San Gottardo; Jun 21, 13 at 4:05 am
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Old Jun 21, 13, 1:58 am
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IMHO the "success" of LH overall and in most individual categories is totally undeserved and the rankings largely echo flyers' partial knowledge and prejudices: in my view AZ, A3, or OS are much better airlines than AF or LH but people don't experience them and think they "must" be bad...
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Old Jun 21, 13, 3:16 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
IMHO the "success" of LH overall and in most individual categories is totally undeserved and the rankings largely echo flyers' partial knowledge and prejudices
Oh, it's like a presidential or parliamentary election then: people have only partial knowledge about the real issues and vote based on prejudices

My personal reactions are twofold: if I do indeed take individual rankings I am surprised to see LH so far up. And I am surprised about EK and QR to be so high in the rankings. Whether or not and by how big a margin they really are "better" than SQ or ANA is a different matter.

But then, as I said in my OP, if I look at whether results are "directionally" correct, I actually do find them OK. Emirates and QR are clearly top 10 airlines, and so are SQ and CX. Turkish and Lufthansa clearly are among the best in Europe.

And then let's not forget one thing: partial knowledge indeed plays a role. For instance, if few people fly Air France Premiere and therefore know little about the Premiere lounge and do not know about it being fantastic, that also reflects on AF's poor overall perception and their inability to attract enough people to their Premiere product.

And: airlines are basically consumer products. So "hype" can be created, and that hype is reflected in people's opinions and therefore also in these surveys.

But in the end, if people choose to fly one airline over another and make that airline successful it hardly matters how much is hype, how much is "hard facts", how much is prejudice, how much is the result of patriotism or captive markets, etc. In the end they still do and that is what makes it to the P&L.

The entire survey would be less attackable if it wasn't called "The world's best airlines" - suggesting that these are absolute truths - but "the airlines people prefer". Big difference, the most popular isn't necessarily the best. Very similar to a presidential or parliamentary election (just ask the French).
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Old Jun 21, 13, 3:34 am
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
The entire survey would be less attackable if it wasn't called "The world's best airlines" - suggesting that these are absolute truths - but "the airlines people prefer". Big difference, the most popular isn't necessarily the best. Very similar to a presidential or parliamentary election (just ask the French).
But that goes without saying, surely?
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Old Jun 21, 13, 3:39 am
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
But that goes without saying, surely?
It should. But if you read some people's reactions they are more of the "this survey is rubbish because how can airline X be better than Y, from my own experience...". And they go on stating their own personal evidence to belie the results of the survey. I would just like to tell them: well maybe you don't agree, but the majority sees it that way, for reasons you may not agree with, but a vote for the "wrong" reasons is still a vote.
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Old Jun 21, 13, 4:41 am
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
...and Lufthansa clearly are among the best in Europe.

[...]

but "the airlines people prefer". Big difference, the most popular isn't necessarily the best. Very similar to a presidential or parliamentary election (just ask the French).
Agree with all of your post except those two small points. I genuinely don't see LH as "among the best in Europe". There are so many European airlines which I think are actually better (TK, OS, LX, AZ, SU, heck even BA is better than LH in my view). In fact regardless of the segment I look at (short, medium or long haul, Y, J, etc) I can't think of anything they do really well except apparently the F terminal and F lounge at MUC and FRA (on their F, I have no direct recent experience but have quite a few friends who use them regularly and are far from wowed despite the tasting menu, lounge notwithstanding but ok, F might be the exception).

On the second, "the airlines people prefer" would be fine but my sense is that it is mostly "the airlines people are used to" which is not quite the same. Again, to only speak of what I know, ranking the BA CCR above the AF P lounge is ridiculous as is ranking BA premium economy above VS's or even AZ or AF. And again, ranking the BA business lounge over the TK one is again absurd as is ranking SK above AZ.

This being said, I am not disputing your general point that "law of average" helping, you do get a number of correct directional tendencies (including the fact that there is nothing AF or KL are quite industry leaders at), but it is just a case of remembering that Skytrax are so imprecise about the methodology they use in particular lack of transparency in the sampling that the bias that is inherent to the study simply cannot be fully evaluated/understood.
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Old Jun 21, 13, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Agree with all of your post except those two small points. I genuinely don't see LH as "among the best in Europe". There are so many European airlines which I think are actually better (TK, OS, LX, AZ, SU, heck even BA is better than LH in my view). In fact regardless of the segment I look at (short, medium or long haul, Y, J, etc) I can't think of anything they do really well except apparently the F terminal and F lounge at MUC and FRA (on their F, I have no direct recent experience but have quite a few friends who use them regularly and are far from wowed despite the tasting menu, lounge notwithstanding but ok, F might be the exception).

On the second, "the airlines people prefer" would be fine but my sense is that it is mostly "the airlines people are used to" which is not quite the same. Again, to only speak of what I know, ranking the BA CCR above the AF P lounge is ridiculous as is ranking BA premium economy above VS's or even AZ or AF. And again, ranking the BA business lounge over the TK one is again absurd as is ranking SK above AZ.

This being said, I am not disputing your general point that "law of average" helping, you do get a number of correct directional tendencies (including the fact that there is nothing AF or KL are quite industry leaders at), but it is just a case of remembering that Skytrax are so imprecise about the methodology they use in particular lack of transparency in the sampling that the bias that is inherent to the study simply cannot be fully evaluated/understood.

Fantastic post, I could have not put it better (well, it is difficult with orbitmic )
San Gottardo finds awards directionally correct and he surely got a point. However I would rather consider these awards as non-exhaustive directionally correct.

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Old Jun 21, 13, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by ulxima View Post
...

Ulxima
Thanks a lot, that's very kind of you to say!
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Old Jun 21, 13, 12:12 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Agree with all of your post except those two small points. I genuinely don't see LH as "among the best in Europe". There are so many European airlines which I think are actually better (TK, OS, LX, AZ, SU, heck even BA is better than LH in my view). In fact regardless of the segment I look at (short, medium or long haul, Y, J, etc) I can't think of anything they do really well except apparently the F terminal and F lounge at MUC and FRA (on their F, I have no direct recent experience but have quite a few friends who use them regularly and are far from wowed despite the tasting menu, lounge notwithstanding but ok, F might be the exception).
Hmm. Let me think. Which are the European airlines for which I would turn LH down, everything else being equal. Swiss, sure. Austrian, sure on shorthaul. Aeroflot, yes on Russia-Western Europe. British Airways? Very probably, depends on class of service and route. Turkish? Probably, depending on class of service and route. Alitalia? borderline. Apparently great longhaul product, but still a mess in operations (I'd prefer a transfer on LH in MUC than on AZ in FCO). KLM? Air France? Iberia? SAS? Brussels? Aer Lingus? Nope. I'd take LH. So for me personally, LH ends up somewhere around the top 5. So, "directionally correct"

Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
On the second, "the airlines people prefer" would be fine but my sense is that it is mostly "the airlines people are used to" which is not quite the same.
I agree, it's not the same. But I am not sure I understand your argument. Does it mean that larger airlines tend to score higher, after all more people are used to them? Then why do US-based carriers score badly, why are AFKL (very large) in the middle and IB (quite large as well) in the back, whilst smaller players like OS and AY more in front? Or is your point a different one, not whom they are used to but what they are used to/expect, the phenomenon which I call the "Zagat trap": you have some mediocre neighbour joints with high rankings because their not very demanding guests give them 3 out of 3 points "because they are always friendly", "because they always give me a free re-fill", etc; and on the other hand restaurants that are objectively better gastronomically and have high scores in the Gault Millau score lower in Zagat because in the league that they play their guests are by definition more critical?

Not sure what it is.

[/QUOTE]
This being said, I am not disputing your general point that "law of average" helping, you do get a number of correct directional tendencies (including the fact that there is nothing AF or KL are quite industry leaders at), but it is just a case of remembering that Skytrax are so imprecise about the methodology they use in particular lack of transparency in the sampling that the bias that is inherent to the study simply cannot be fully evaluated/understood.[/QUOTE]

Yep. For instance we do not know whether they normalize results. Are there more people saying that LX is great than there are people saying that Air Canada is great? Or do they normalize them against the number of pax each airline has?
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Old Jun 21, 13, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
So for me personally

That is the point San Gottardo: For you personally
These Skytrax Awards are too much biased by "for someone personally"

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Old Jun 21, 13, 3:40 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Hmm. Let me think. Which are the European airlines for which I would turn LH down, everything else being equal. Swiss, sure. Austrian, sure on shorthaul. Aeroflot, yes on Russia-Western Europe. British Airways? Very probably, depends on class of service and route. Turkish? Probably, depending on class of service and route. Alitalia? borderline. Apparently great longhaul product, but still a mess in operations (I'd prefer a transfer on LH in MUC than on AZ in FCO). KLM? Air France? Iberia? SAS? Brussels? Aer Lingus? Nope. I'd take LH. So for me personally, LH ends up somewhere around the top 5. So, "directionally correct"
I actually agree with nearly all your examples above (except AZ which I would definitely choose over LH especially long haul despite, as you rightly point out, the rubbish back office work and OS which I would choose over LH on long haul faster than it takes Usain Bolt to run 1 metre the new OS J is one my top European one alongside AZ), but less good than LX, OS, TK, OS, SU, BA, and AZ for me -- better than KL, AF, IB, SK, SN (note: I would choose SN long haul J over LH long haul J any day too), EI makes LH 'middle of the road' in my view rather than 11th world airline

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
I agree, it's not the same. But I am not sure I understand your argument. Does it mean that larger airlines tend to score higher, after all more people are used to them? Then why do US-based carriers score badly, why are AFKL (very large) in the middle and IB (quite large as well) in the back, whilst smaller players like OS and AY more in front?
My point is double. The first (and minor) point is not actually that larger airline will tend to score higher but rather than smaller airlines will be penalised because they are less well known.

The second (and more important) point is that for well-known psychological reasons which I won't go into here, when you give people a chance to evaluate multiple things, they tend to evaluate not just what they "really" know but also what they don't know directly but think they know (ie what they hold prejudice about). Your example of elections above is very pertinent here. My second point is thus that this is not a survey which will specifically reflect 'experience' of airlines but also, and to a large extent, 'prejudices' about airlines. In this sense, I have no doubt that many people who have never flown AZ (or not for many years) have answered questions about AZ and scored it badly because in their view, AZ 'personifies' the bad airline. Conversely, I wouldn't be surprised if part of the good score of LH was due to people "thinking" that LH is good, well-organised, and efficient, even when they have not tried it or not tried it recently. Let me give you examples. If you ask people to rank airlines on the basis of how good they are at being on time, I would bet anything that the majority of people would give very high scores to LH and LX, and very low scores to U2 or UX (Air Europa, a Spanish former charter airline) or Greek airlines while in fact, Greek airlines have long held the record of the most on time in Europe (both Aegean and Olympic!) for many years, and U2 and UX also have a much better on time performance than LH and a vastly superior one to LX which is one of the very poor players in that field (in fact, AF, IB, TK, KL and most other European airlines... except BA have much better on time record than LX!) but hey, when you think Switzerland, you think precision, organisation, watches, and timeliness, which is in fact very much true about the country... but not about the national airline. I'm sure as discussed in another thread on the BA forum, that many people also choose to answer questions about AF's P lounge saying it's rubbish because the cues they use is that the other AF lounges are not good (but what they ignore is that particular one is in fact excellent even though the J lounges are everything but!) or conversely many people would say that LHR has horrible delays (because we are used to circling around it) while in fact, LHR has much better on time performance than CDG, ARN or IST, let alone ORD or HKG.

So this is the sort of phenomenon which I think is largely triggered by the type of votes skytrax organises - echoing prejudice in addition to echoing experience, and that means that "valid data" and "error" which are hard to dissociate. That would be consistent with much of what we know in social science research, and it is a problem that we can very effectively avoid, but there are techniques involved to do that that I do not believe skytrax is using at all (nor are commercial surveys typically). My feeling is that this type of error will be maximal for summary judgements ('best airline' etc) and less problematic for specific judgements ('best premium economy', etc).
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Old Jun 22, 13, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
I actually agree with nearly all your examples above (except AZ which I would definitely choose over LH especially long haul despite, as you rightly point out, the rubbish back office work and OS which I would choose over LH on long haul faster than it takes Usain Bolt to run 1 metre the new OS J is one my top European one alongside AZ), but less good than LX, OS, TK, OS, SU, BA, and AZ for me -- better than KL, AF, IB, SK, SN (note: I would choose SN long haul J over LH long haul J any day too), EI makes LH 'middle of the road' in my view rather than 11th world airline



My point is double. The first (and minor) point is not actually that larger airline will tend to score higher but rather than smaller airlines will be penalised because they are less well known.

The second (and more important) point is that for well-known psychological reasons which I won't go into here, when you give people a chance to evaluate multiple things, they tend to evaluate not just what they "really" know but also what they don't know directly but think they know (ie what they hold prejudice about). Your example of elections above is very pertinent here. My second point is thus that this is not a survey which will specifically reflect 'experience' of airlines but also, and to a large extent, 'prejudices' about airlines. In this sense, I have no doubt that many people who have never flown AZ (or not for many years) have answered questions about AZ and scored it badly because in their view, AZ 'personifies' the bad airline. Conversely, I wouldn't be surprised if part of the good score of LH was due to people "thinking" that LH is good, well-organised, and efficient, even when they have not tried it or not tried it recently. Let me give you examples. If you ask people to rank airlines on the basis of how good they are at being on time, I would bet anything that the majority of people would give very high scores to LH and LX, and very low scores to U2 or UX (Air Europa, a Spanish former charter airline) or Greek airlines while in fact, Greek airlines have long held the record of the most on time in Europe (both Aegean and Olympic!) for many years, and U2 and UX also have a much better on time performance than LH and a vastly superior one to LX which is one of the very poor players in that field (in fact, AF, IB, TK, KL and most other European airlines... except BA have much better on time record than LX!) but hey, when you think Switzerland, you think precision, organisation, watches, and timeliness, which is in fact very much true about the country... but not about the national airline. I'm sure as discussed in another thread on the BA forum, that many people also choose to answer questions about AF's P lounge saying it's rubbish because the cues they use is that the other AF lounges are not good (but what they ignore is that particular one is in fact excellent even though the J lounges are everything but!) or conversely many people would say that LHR has horrible delays (because we are used to circling around it) while in fact, LHR has much better on time performance than CDG, ARN or IST, let alone ORD or HKG.

So this is the sort of phenomenon which I think is largely triggered by the type of votes skytrax organises - echoing prejudice in addition to echoing experience, and that means that "valid data" and "error" which are hard to dissociate. That would be consistent with much of what we know in social science research, and it is a problem that we can very effectively avoid, but there are techniques involved to do that that I do not believe skytrax is using at all (nor are commercial surveys typically). My feeling is that this type of error will be maximal for summary judgements ('best airline' etc) and less problematic for specific judgements ('best premium economy', etc).
OK, understood and agreed. And it feeds directly into a point I made earlier on: when given a choice - either in a survey or where to spend their money - people make that choice based on a number of factors. These factors may be "hard and measurable vidence" , such as a lower price or own experience, and they may be fuzzy and include things like hype and prejudice. Alitalia certainly suffers from its image which reflects its past history.

But that is where marketing comes in. The ME3 and some Far Eastern airlines have managed to position themselves in people's perception as "top of the range" airlines, although the actual reality does not always support that. Alitalia has against (its own desire) established itself as unreliable and chaotic. Air France doesn't know what it wants to be, something like "better than the Asians" and at the same time "competing with LCC through MiNi" with both being a factual lie.

So this survey reflects people's preferred airlines. Fair enough. What the reasons behind those preferences are, whether they can all be backed up by hard evidence, is something even the people casting the votes do not know. But perception is reality, and it can be translated into votes and into hard currency when a choice between airlines has to be made.
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Old Jun 22, 13, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by ulxima View Post
That is the point San Gottardo: For you personally
Err, you may have missed my earlier point. I do find the results "directionally correct", which means that maybe personally I would rank them differently I probably would have all the airlines +/- 10 ranks of where they are in the Skytrax ranking. So I made the plausibility test of Lufthansa. They have been voted second best airline in Europe in the survey, personally i would have not them ranked second, but still put them in the top 5 or 6. So this proves that at least for me the results are at least directionally correct. I browsed over the top 100, and there were no airlines that were "off" by 25 ranks or so.

Originally Posted by ulxima View Post
These Skytrax Awards are too much biased by "for someone personally"

Ulxima
Sure, but what else would you like it to be? That is the very essence of the survey

Last edited by San Gottardo; Jun 22, 13 at 1:17 pm
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Old Jun 22, 13, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
OK, understood and agreed. And it feeds directly into a point I made earlier on: when given a choice - either in a survey or where to spend their money - people make that choice based on a number of factors. These factors may be "hard and measurable vidence" , such as a lower price or own experience, and they may be fuzzy and include things like hype and prejudice. Alitalia certainly suffers from its image which reflects its past history.

But that is where marketing comes in. The ME3 and some Far Eastern airlines have managed to position themselves in people's perception as "top of the range" airlines, although the actual reality does not always support that. Alitalia has against (its own desire) established itself as unreliable and chaotic. Air France doesn't know what it wants to be, something like "better than the Asians" and at the same time "competing with LCC through MiNi" with both being a factual lie.

So this survey reflects people's preferred airlines. Fair enough. What the reasons behind those preferences are, whether they can all be backed up by hard evidence, is something even the people casting the votes do not know. But perception is reality, and it can be translated into votes and into hard currency when a choice between airlines has to be made.
Very true!
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Old Jun 22, 13, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Sure, but what else would you like it to be? That is the very essence of the survey
I would like to see just hard and measurable evidence.
I concede this can be hardly found in this kind of surveys that I tend to consider useless.

I am happy that at least you can find the result directionally correct.
I personally found them directionally wrong but then again this is my perception based on my experience.

However if we rightly consider this survey as people's preferred airlines then I totally agree and I may write that I also see your same direction.

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