One airline has literally gone to great lengths to prove it's the best in the past 12 months, and it appears to have paid off.
Singapore Airlines, which in October triumphantly relaunched the world's longest nonstop scheduled passenger service, flying from Singapore to New York, has now capped a successful year with a new accolade.
The carrier has pipped Air New Zealand to be named Airline of the Year by Australia-based aviation safety and product rating agency AirlineRatings, in the company's annual Airline Excellence Awards.
It's a big upset for Air New Zealand, which has spent five consecutive years in the top spot.
The awards celebrate the carriers soaring highest -- from the swankiest first-class suites to the comfiest economy seats, via the roomiest lounges and tastiest culinary offerings.
"For years Singapore Airlines has been the gold standard and now it is back to its best leading in passenger innovations and new state-of-the-art aircraft models," says AirlineRatings Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas.
AirlineRatings' award editors highlighted Singapore Airlines' new non-stop Singapore to New York service.
"The editors said that the competition for top spot was tight with Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways and Qatar Airways just being nudged out," he adds.
The awards are compiled using major international industry and government safety audits, plus 12 key criteria including fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment ratings, staff relations and product offerings.
"In our objective analysis Singapore Airlines came out number one in many of our audit criteria, which is a great performance," explains Thomas.
Singapore Airlines, which earlier in 2018 picked up the coveted Skytrax Airline of the Year Award, also won AirlineRatings' Best First Class prize.
Meanwhile Qatar Airways, which placed number four on the overall ranking, saw its great food and luxury offerings secure Best Catering and Best Business Class.
"The airline's Qsuite is a first-class experience in business class," says AirlineRatings. "It leaves little to chance and our judges rated it as one of the best overall business-class products they had seen. It sets a standard to which some airlines can only aspire."
Aussie airline Qantas picked up the Best Lounges gong for the second year.
While Air New Zealand may no longer be reigning champion, the airline was recognized for Excellence in Long Haul Travel (Pacific).
AirlineRatings also praised Emirates, number six on the overall round-up, for its continued pioneering of top inflight entertainment options.
"Emirates was one of the pioneers of IFE, and one of the first to install seatback videos in economy," says AirlineRatings. "Today its IFE platform ICE is in a class of its own."
Economy options were also awarded. For the second year running, KoreanAir was recognized for its spacious seats. Westjet was crowned the Best Low-Cost Airline in the Americas, Wizz won for Europe and AirAsia / AirAsia X for Asia/Pacfic.
AirlineRatings.com's top 10 airlines for 2019
1. Singapore Airlines
2. Air New Zealand
4. Qatar Airways
5. Virgin Australia
7. All Nippon Airways
8. EVA Air
9. Cathay Pacific Airways
10. Japan Airlines