This is the best airline in the world (it's not who you think)

Chris Matyszczyk

The experts have flown. And they have spoken.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

I understand that the World Society Of Experts is holding an emergency meeting next week in Peoria, Illinois.

After the US election, experts in every field are concerned that they'll never be taken seriously again.

What will this do to their expertise and their speaking fees? What will it do to their ability to be quoted in every medium?

Still, experts are bravely trudging on.

The latest to strike my eyes is the experts' verdict on the world's best airlines. I often have the impression that Middle Eastern airlines such as Emirates win these accolades.

However, here's something from that suggests otherwise.

It's just announced its list of the world's best. The criteria were four major international industry and government audits, coupled with other things such as fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offerings.

And who should come out top but Air New Zealand?

I confess I've never flown this airline. Despite the fact that the man who wrote "Lord Of The Rings" went to my high school, I've never gone further down under than Australia.

Still, AirlineRatings insists that Air New Zealand came first in almost all the criteria.

This is the fourth time in a row that New Zealand's finest has come out the finest. It also won Best Premium Economy Class for the third year in a row.

As for First Class, the best was Etihad. The best Business Class? Virgin Australia. The best economy class? Singapore Airlines.

Some might note a certain geographical bias here. Well, AirlineRatings is "presented by the West Australian" newspaper.

The experts did offer some thoughts about long-haul airlines, though.

For the Americas, Delta was voted the best. For Europe, it was Virgin Atlantic. (Hey, Virgin, about the flimsy foam seat you gave me. I still haven't heard from you.) For the Middle East and Africa, Etihad won. And in Asia/Pacific it was Singapore Airlines.

What, I hear you cry, about the cheaper airlines? Did Spirit win in the Americas? Did Allegiant?

Not quite. It was Virgin America. The most cheap and cheerful in Europe was deemed Norwegian, in Asia/Pacific, Scoot and in African and Middle East, Kulula.

You, no doubt, have your favorite airlines for reasons that might not be the same as the experts'.

Personally, I have grown a very soft spot for TAP, Portugal's national airline. Understated, extremely pleasant staff, and even the sandwiches they give you in economy are more than edible.

In general, though, are airline standards rising?

Or is it just airline profits? (Clue: It's the latter.)