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This Is the World's Best Airline...

As it has since 1999, airline ratings service Skytrax has published the results of its 2014 World Airline Survey, ranking more than 200 of the world's airlines from best to worst. The rankings were based on responses to 18.9 million customer surveys.

Skytrax boasts that it uses sophisticated data-weighting algorithms to compensate for different sample sizes, and has fraud-detection mechanisms in place to maintain the results' legitimacy. And the research is not funded by any of the ranked companies.

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Although the survey is clearly more rigorous than most, there are questions about its methodology. It's not clear, for example, how much weight is given to the various factors that, taken together, give an airline its overall score. Full transparency is reserved for airline executives, who presumably pay for privileged access.

The top-20 airlines, according to the latest survey, are as follows:

  1. Cathay Pacific Airways
  2. Qatar Airways
  3. Singapore Airlines
  4. Emirates
  5. Turkish Airlines
  6. ANA All Nippon Airways
  7. Garuda Indonesia
  8. Asiana Airlines
  9. Etihad Airways
  10. Lufthansa
  11. Qantas Airways
  12. EVA Air
  13. Swiss
  14. Thai Airways
  15. Virgin Australia
  16. Air New Zealand
  17. British Airways
  18. Malaysia Airlines
  19. Hainan Airlines
  20. Bangkok Airways

Conspicuously missing from the list of top airlines are any carriers from North America. Among themselves, they were ranked as follows:

  1. Air Canada
  2. WestJet
  3. Virgin America
  4. Delta Air Lines
  5. United Airlines
  6. Porter Airlines
  7. JetBlue Airways
  8. Alaska Airlines
  9. Southwest Airlines
  10. American Eagle Airlines

In case you were wondering, only one airline scored just a single star in the Skytrax system, which awards a maximum of five stars: North Korea's Air Koryo.

Reader Reality Check

What are your picks for the world's top airlines?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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