Asian Airlines Have Cleanest Lavatories and Best Cabin Crews

June 21, 2015 Updated: June 22, 2015

Most Airlines could learn a thing or two about customer satisfaction from their Asian counterparts. In the SkyTrax 2015 World Airline Awards, Asia-based carriers occupied every spot in the top 10 rated airlines for cabin cleanliness, and 9 out of 10 spots for best cabin staff. 

World’s Best Aircraft Cabin Cleanliness

1 EVA Air (Taiwan)
2 Singapore Airlines
3 ANA All Nippon Airways (Japan)
4 Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
5 Asiana Airlines (South Korea)
6 Garuda Indonesia
7 Japan Airlines
8 Hainan Airlines (China)
9 Korean Air
10 Hong Kong Airlines


While restroom cleanliness, or lack there of, might get the greatest scrutiny, passengers taking the survey were asked to assess the standards and quality of cleanliness throughout the cabin, including seat areas, tables, carpets, cabin panels, and of course the aircraft washrooms. 

Inside a Singapore airlines A380 economy class cabin. (Rudy Herman/CC BY)
Inside a Singapore airlines A380 economy class cabin. (Rudy Herman/CC BY 2.0)

SkyTrax, established in 1989, is the industry leader in setting global benchmarks for passenger satisfaction and overall excellence via its annual airline and airport awards. It determines the winners by polling frequent fliers from across the globe—this year, surveys were completed by nearly 19 million passengers from 105 countries.

World’s Best Cabin Staff

1 Garuda Indonesia
2 Cathay Pacific
3 Singapore Airlines
4 Asiana Airlines
5 Malaysia Airlines
6 Qatar Airways
7 EVA Air
8 ANA All Nippon Airways
9 Thai Airways
10 Hainan Airlines


The award for world’s best cabin staff is one of the premier categories. It goes to the airlines with the highest all-around performance covering, “‘hard’ service such as techniques, efficiency, attention etc., together with the ‘soft’ service characteristics such as staff enthusiasm, attitude, and friendliness etc.”

A similar cast of Asian airlines also occupied the nine top spots for world’s best airport service (KLM Royal Dutch got 10th place).

American Carriers Fare Poorly

In the awards overall, Asian and Middle Eastern Airlines generally cleaned up. In the coveted prize for the world’s top airline, Qatar Airways was voted No. 1, up from second spot last year. Qatar followed by Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Turkish Airlines, and Emirates rounded out the top 5.

U.S. carriers generally did quite poorly.

U.S. carriers generally did quite poorly. The highest rated American airline was Virgin America at 26th overall with EasyJet next coming in at 39. The big name American airlines were further down the list: Delta ranked 45th, United 60th, Southwest came in at 67, and American 79. 

The only American carrier to win anything at all was Virgin America, which cleaned up in the regional categories: best airline in North America; best low-cost airline in North America; best airline staff service in North America.

The results are consistent with the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) that came out in April and revealed that the U.S. airline industry scored worse in 2014 than the previous four years. 

The 12 leading airlines in the country collectively did worse in all four performance areas the annual AQR tracks: on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings (getting bumped), mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories.

Unfortunately for consumers, the report’s co-author Dean Headley said he doesn’t see much incentive for U.S. airlines to improve. At a time of mergers and greater profits for airlines, “customer satisfaction is not the airlines’ first concern,” said Headley.

The report is a joint project of researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University.