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The Best European Airlines

Updated on June 16, 2015

There are several European airlines, even in the same country, some of them are Low Cost, others are traditional, there are extensive lists about them. However there are lots of differences between them, like the home market, their hub, their focus on intercontinental flights and many others.

In such a competitive market some airlines try to be the best, the best airline that a passenger could choose, and they focus their efforts in order to be considered the best by everyone. It is difficult to decide which one is the best of the best, and it is not consensual, even choosing the best airline for some specific segments may result in disagreement.

In this hub you can take a look and see which European Airlines are considered the best, by who and why, and get more information about that airline. In general the passengers are the "voters" for such election, but since there is no passenger association, there are organizations that give awards, some of them more important than others.

The Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax goes to Turkish Airlines
The Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax goes to Turkish Airlines
The World Travel Awards awarded Lufthansa as the Europe's Leading Airline
The World Travel Awards awarded Lufthansa as the Europe's Leading Airline

The Best Airline in Europe goes to...

In 2012 the World Airline Award of Best Airline in Europe by Skytrax went to Turkish Airlines, the same winner in 2011, coming from a third place in 2010. This choice was made by passengers that were surveyed about several key performances of the airline.

The best of the best is the airline that is in general better than the others, there are also others that won awards by Skytrax, such as the best staff service (KLM), LowCost (Easyjet), regional airline (Aegean Airlines), best catering on business class (Swiss) and premium economy seat (Turkish).

The World Travel Awards awarded Lufthansa as the Europe's Leading Airline, same winner in 2011. In 2010 the winner was KLM.

The Airline Passenger Experience Association with lower impact awarded Virgin Atlantic as the best airline in the European Region. The number of awards by APEA is lower than the WAA by Skytrax and is not so important in the World News.

There also other smaller awards by others organizations, like the "Global Traveler – Wine on the Wings" which decides the best wines served in an airline. British Airways and Brussels Airlines were the winners, with the award for best wine in first class for British, and best wine in business class for Brussels.

Turkish Airlines - Best Airline in Europe

Turkish Airlines is not only considered the best airline in Europe, it has also other awards, which is normal if we are talking about the best airline. The other awards were, Best Premium Economy Seats and Best Airline in Southern Europe. Even other organizations awarded Turkish, as the "Market Leadership award of 2011".

Turkish was founded in 1933 and has its hub in Istanbul, a city that is known to be divided Europe and Asia. Although it is not the biggest airline in the world, it is the airline that has a hub servicing the largest number of destinations.

It is owned in 49% by the Turkish government and the others 51% are traded on the stock market, it has a fleet size of 194 aircraft, and it is in an alliance, Star Alliance.

KLM Staff - The Best in Europe
KLM Staff - The Best in Europe

KLM - Best Airline Staff in Europe

The dutch may not be known as the most friendly people in the Europe, but when it comes to their national airline, their staff was good enough to win the best airline staff award, above the efficient staff of Lufthansa and Swiss.

KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines was founded in 1919 and has its hub in Amsterdam. It is the oldest airline company under the original name.

Nowadays it is merged with Air France, but it still uses the original name and a KLM logo, it has a fleet size of 116 aircraft, and it is part of Skyteam alliance.

Easyjet - Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe
Easyjet - Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe

Easyjet - Best Low-Cost Airline in Europe

Since low costs normally cut costs on the passengers services, it would be very difficult to win awards like "best wine" or the "most comfortable seats". That is why there exists a special award for the best LowCost(LC), the best airline for cheap tickets.

Easyjet was founded in 1995 and since it is a LC it has no hub to transfer passengers. The similar airport to a hub is London Luton Airport, where the headquarters are located, but it is not the most important airport for Easyjet. The biggest base is London Gatwick.

It is the biggest airline in the United Kingdom (number of passengers) and it is the second low cost in Europe (behind Ryanair). As a LC they have no interest in joining in any alliance.

Aegean Airlines - Best Regional Airline in Europe

Regional Airlines are neither low cost, but also non traditional. They normally have an irregular operation, connecting places that do not have enough demand to sustain regular operation. Since regional airlines have such specificity, there is an award for the best regional award.

Aegean is a Greek Airlines founded and owned by private investors. The name Aegean Airlines was created in 1999, when the company started to operate with the name that remains until today. It has its main hub in Athens, and other bases in the Greek islands.

It is the biggest airline in Greece, having a fleet size of 29 aircraft, and it is part of the Star Alliance.

Best Catering to Swiss
Best Catering to Swiss

Swiss - Best Business Class Onboard Catering

Swiss International Airlines was founded in 2002, one of the most recent airlines, but that is due to the bankruptcy of the previous flag carrier, Swissair. Nowadays the company belongs to Lufthansa group but it maintains its brand and hub.

The Swiss hub is in Zurich with headquarters in Basel and has a fleet of 81 aircraft. As part of Lufthansa group, it belongs to Star Alliance.

Despite being a young competitor, it has maintained quality standards, and it has already won the best business class on-board catering and it is the third best airline in Europe.

Lufthansa - largest airline in Europe
Lufthansa - largest airline in Europe

Lufthansa - Europe's Leading Airline

Lufthansa is the largest airline in Europe, by passengers and fleet size, a benefit from having the largest economic home market in Europe. It was considered by Skytrax as the second best airline in Europe, being the best airline in West Europe.

It was founded in 1953 in the Federal Republic Germany near the city of Cologne. The main hub is Frankfurt, one of the main airports in the Europe.

Nowadays Lufthansa Group has several subsidiaries including, Brussels Airlines, Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines. It has a fleet size of 291 aircraft which can grow to 871 if you include the subsidiaries of the group.

It is also the founder and member of Star Alliance

Virgin Atlantic - Best Airline in the European Region by APEA

Virgin Atlantic is owned by Sir Richard Branson and Singapore Airlines and it is not normally seen in continental European airports. It flies from the United Kingdom to the rest of the world.

It was founded in 1984 and it has an operating base in London, in the airports of Gatwick and Heathrow. It has a fleet size of 42 aircraft.

British Airways -  Best Wine in First Class
British Airways - Best Wine in First Class

British Airways - Best Airline Transatlantic & Best Wine in First Class

British Airways was founded in 1974 and it is the United Kingdom flag carrier. Nowadays it belongs to the group IAG, result from the merge with Iberia.

It has its main hub in London Heathrow and benefits from a special relation with North America, but flying to almost everywhere in the world.

It has a fleet of 241 aircraft and is founder and member of Oneworld.

Top 5 Largest Airlines in Europe

Passengers - 2011 (Aprox. Millions PAX)
Fleet Size
Low Cost / Alliance
Lufthansa Group
Star Alliance
Low Cost
AirFrance - KLM
Low Cost
IAG (Iberia + British Airways)
Turkish Airlines
Star Alliance
Air Berlin
One World

Swiss Business Class


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