Fear to fly? Explore the Top 20 safest airlines in the world in 2023

Qantas aircraft waiting for passengers during rainy day at Melbourne international airport.

Air travel has long been considered one of the safest modes of transportation, with rigorous safety standards and protocols in place. However, for some individuals, the fear of flying can still be a significant obstacle. To alleviate these concerns, it’s crucial to choose airlines with impeccable safety records.  

In 2023, several airlines around the world have emerged as the safest options for travelers. Let’s delve into the Top 20 safest airlines in the world, as ranked by Airline Rankings, and explore the criteria used to determine their safety.

What makes an airline safe? 

Determining the safety of an airline involves a complex analysis of multiple factors. According to Geoffrey Thomas the editor-in-chief for Airline Rankings, their editors employ a comprehensive methodology. They analyze: 

  • Crashes in the last 5 years: The number of crashes an airline has experienced over the past five years is a crucial indicator of its safety performance. Few or no crashes demonstrate a commitment to safety. 
  • Serious incidents within a two-year period: While crashes are the most severe safety events, serious incidents like engine failures, emergency landings, or near-miss situations also play a role in assessing an airline’s safety. 
  • Inspections conducted by aviation regulatory authorities: Regulatory agencies and industry associations conduct regular audits to assess an airline’s adherence to safety standards and procedures. 
  • Fleet age: Older aircraft may have more wear and tear, increasing the risk of mechanical failures. A young fleet is often seen as a safety advantage. 
  • Assessment of pilot training: Well-trained and experienced pilots are a cornerstone of flight safety. Airlines with rigorous pilot training programs score higher in safety assessments. 
  • COVID protocols: In the post-pandemic world, airlines’ response to health and safety measures is also a significant consideration. 

With these criteria in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Top 20 safest airlines in the world for 2023: 

1. Qantas 

  • Country: Australia 
  • Commenced operations: November 2, 1922 
  • Qantas achieved a remarkable safety milestone with its last fatal crash occurring back in 1951. Since that time, over 70 years have passed without any fatal accidents being recorded by the airline. 

2. Air New Zealand 

  • Country: New Zealand 
  • Commenced operations: April 1, 1965 
  • Air New Zealand is renowned for its commitment to safety and excellent service, making it a top choice for travelers. 
Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

3. Etihad Airways 

  • Country: United Arab Emirates 
  • Commenced operations: November 2003 
  • Etihad Airways maintains a strong safety track record, providing peace of mind to passengers. 
M101Studio / Shutterstock 

4. Qatar Airways 

  • Commenced operations: January 20, 1994 
  • Qatar Airways is recognized for its modern fleet and adherence to safety standards. 
Bradley Caslin / Shutterstock 

5. Singapore Airlines 

  • Country: Singapore 
  • Commenced operations: October 1, 1972 
  • Singapore Airlines is known for its impeccable safety record and high-quality service. 
Sorbis / Shutterstock 

6. TAP Air Portugal 

  • Country: Portugal 
  • Commenced operations: September 19, 1946 
  • TAP Air Portugal has been steadily climbing the safety rankings, thanks to its rigorous safety protocols. 
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock 

7. Emirates 

  • Country: United Arab Emirates 
  • Commenced operations: October 25, 1985 
  • Emirates, one of the world’s largest airlines, consistently prioritizes safety, making it a popular choice for travelers. 
Sorbis / Shutterstock 

8. Alaska Airlines 

  • Country: United States 
  • Commenced operations: June 6, 1944 
  • As one of the safest airlines in the US, Alaska Airlines has a strong safety culture. 
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock 

9. EVA Air 

  • Commenced operations: July 1, 1991 
  • EVA Air or Evergreen Airways is known for its modern fleet and dedication to passenger safety. 
Simon Tang / Shutterstock

10. Virgin Australia/Atlantic 

  • Country: Australia/United Kingdom 
  • Commenced operations: Virgin Australia August 29, 2011, and Atlantic June 22, 1984 
  • The Virgin Group airlines Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic place a strong emphasis on safety, offering reliable travel experiences. 
Seth Jaworski / Shutterstock 

11. Cathay Pacific Airways 

  • Country: Hong Kong 
  • Commenced operations: September 24, 1946 
  • Cathay Pacific Airways maintains an excellent safety record, assuring travelers of their well-being. 
bluerprintt / Shutterstock 

12. Hawaiian Airlines 

  • Country: United States 
  • Commenced operations: October 6, 1929 
  • Hawaiian Airlines is a trusted choice for those traveling to and from Hawaii, known for its safety measures. 
Eliyahu Yosef Parypa / Shutterstock 

13. SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) 

  • Country: Sweden/Norway/Denmark 
  • Commenced operations: August 1, 1946 
  • SAS is recognized for its commitment to safety, serving travelers in Scandinavia and beyond. 
photosounds / Shutterstock 

14. United Airlines 

  • Country: United States 
  • Commenced operations: March 28, 1931 
  • United Airlines is one of the largest carriers in the world, and its safety record reflects its dedication to passenger well-being. 
Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock 

15. Lufthansa Group airlines 

  • Country: Germany 
  • Commenced operations: April 1, 1955 
  • Lufthansa Group airlines, operating under one umbrella, prioritize safety and passenger satisfaction. 
Belish / Shutterstock 

16. Finnair 

  • Country: Finland 
  • Commenced operations: November 1, 1923 
  • Finnair is a reliable choice for European and international travel, with a strong safety record. 
Danil Tsoy / Shutterstock 

17. British Airways 

  • Country: United Kingdom 
  • Commenced operations: August 25, 1919 
  • British Airways has a long history of safety and provides a comfortable travel experience. 
Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock 

18. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 

  • Country: The Netherlands 
  • Commenced operations: October 7, 1919 
  • KLM’s commitment to safety and service has earned it a place among the Top 20 safest airlines. 
Robert Buchel / Shutterstock 

19. American Airlines 

  • Country: United States 
  • Commenced operations: June 25, 1936 
  • As a major United States carrier, American Airlines emphasizes safety to ensure passenger confidence. 
Samuel Ponce / Shutterstock 

20. Delta Air Lines 

  • Country: United States 
  • Commenced operations: June 17, 1929 
  • Delta Air Lines rounds out the list, known for its focus on safety and customer service. 
Austin Deppe / Shutterstock 

When it comes to choosing the best airline for your travels, safety should always be a top priority. The Top 20 safest airlines in the world in 2023, as ranked by Airline Rankings, have demonstrated their commitment to passenger safety through their excellent safety records, rigorous training programs, and adherence to industry standards.  

Whether you’re embarking on a short domestic flight or a long-haul international journey, these airlines provide peace of mind, making your travel experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. So, if you fear flying, rest assured that these airlines have your safety at heart, allowing you to focus on the excitement of your journey rather than the fear of the flight. 

Top 20 safest airlines in the world for 2023 

Rank Airline Started Operations Serious Incidents (past 2 years) Crashes (past 5 years) 
Qantas 1922 
Air New Zealand 1965 
Etihad Airways 2003 
Qatar Airways 1994 
Singapore Airlines 1972 
TAP Air Portugal 1946 
Emirates 1985 
Alaska Airlines 1944 
EVA Air 1991 
10 Virgin Australia/Atlantic 1984 
11 Cathay Pacific Airways 1946 
12 Hawaiian Airlines 1929 
13 SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) 1946 
14 United Airlines 1931 
15 Lufthansa/Swiss Group 1955 
16 Finnair 1923 
17 British Airways 1919 
18 KLM 1919 
19 American Airlines 1936 
20 Delta Air Lines 1929 
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