Survey Picks Aeroflot as World’s Best Airline Brand

In your opinion, is there a case to be made that Aeroflot is the world’s leading airline brand?

It’s often said that data, sufficiently tortured, can lead to any conclusion. Along those lines, sometimes poll results leave you convinced that the data must have been screaming in agony.

Case in point: the results of the 24th World Travel Awards, self-described by the sponsor as “the ultimate travel accolade.”

The same company operates the World Golf Awards, the World Ski Awards, and the World Spa Awards, so presumably they know something about polling. And the results at first blush seem to accord with those of other more prestigious polls. Among them:

  • World’s leading airline: Singapore Airlines
  • World’s leading airline – first class: Emirates
  • World’s leading airline alliance: oneworld
  • World’s leading airport: Singapore Changi
  • World’s leading business travel agency: American Express

No qualms with those picks. They might differ somewhat from mine, but I wouldn’t discount them out of hand. They’re reasonable, and don’t leave me questioning the reliability of the survey itself.

But other picks are more likely to raise eyebrows. Hainan Airlines appears on the list five times (best business class, best inflight entertainment, best business-class lounge, best cabin crew, best inflight service), more than any other carrier. Really?

Emirates’ Skywards is the world’s best loyalty program. Huh?

And what for me was the capper: Aeroflot was picked as the World’s Leading Airline Brand. That goes beyond questionable; it’s downright laughable.

All of which raises the question: According to whom? World Travel Awards says that “the votes come from qualified executives working within travel and tourism and the consumer travel buyer.” But that’s it. No information about the number of voters participating or the number of votes received. Where the voters come from. How often they travel.

Outlier results. Lack of transparency regarding methodology. Two red flags.

And a takeaway: Always consider the source.

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

This article first appeared on, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.

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