The list of best airlines in the world is always changing as carriers compete to get a chunk of your hard earned cash.  In the last few years the U.S. based airlines have struggled to get on the list in favor of Middle Eastern and other Asian airlines.  This year is no exception.  Check out the list below for the top five best airlines for the economy class budget traveler.

5. Qatar Airways

qatar airline has the fifth best economy class
Courtesy of Aero lcarus on flickr

Common reports from Qatar Airways’ economy class passengers include “lots of legroom”, “great in-flight entertainment” and “decent food”. This is one of the Middle-East’s biggest and best airlines. Competition for luxury travelers is steep in their corner of the world. Other swanky airlines serving the region include Etihad (more on them later), Emirates and obscure but excellent Oman air. All this competition keeps Qatar Airways on their toes and constantly striving to impress.

Look out for the occasionally well-priced Qatar Airways fares for long haul connections from Europe or the USA to East and Southeast Asia (they serve destinations such as Shanghai and Bangkok).

4. ANA All Nippon Airways

ana airline is rated fourth economy flight
Courtesy of ken H on flickr

Japan’s premier airline, ANA has improved in the rankings in recent years to become one of the world’s finest airlines. ANA has a 5-star Skytrax rating and seems to have a knack for turning customers into life-long fans. When talking to fellow travelers in Asia about their favorite airline, ANA seems to always come up.

While ANA isn’t known for their cheap fares, look out for ANA flights when redeeming frequent flyer miles from any Star Alliance partner airline (such as United or Air Canada.)

3. Etihad Airways

Etihad Third Best Airline for Budget Travelers
Courtesy of markyharky on flickr

By far the youngest airline on the list, Etihad airways (founded in 2003) is a rising star of luxury airlines. Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (think desert & skyscrapers) but they have very competitive fares for travel between Europe and South Asia.

Tip: When booking Etihad flights from Europe to Asia, adding a free stopover in Abu Dhabi may be possible. Use ITA Matrix to check.

Etihad Passengers report comfortable seats, good amenities like in-seat power and in-flight entertainment and nice flight attendants. The food on the other hand: nothing special.

2. Asiana Airlines

Asiana Top Korean Airline for traveling on the budget
Courtesy of LWY on flickr

Korea’s most luxurious airline is known for their great service. Don’t let their crash last summer in San Francisco scare you away – Asiana is absolutely one of the best ways of getting to/from Asia.

On board, the excellent cabin crew will make you feel like a celebrity. Plus, decent seats, good food and clean airplanes make this a top choice when going to/from North Asia.

1. Singapore Airlines

Singapore Best Airline for Economy Travelers
Courtesy of Richard Moross on flickr

Describing this Southeast Asian airline as “super premium” might not quite do it justice. It really is that good – but it’s not just what happens onboard the flight that makes Singapore Airlines passengers so happy. The airline’s hub at Changi Airport in Singapore is also rated as the #1 airport in the world.

On board, passengers can expect comfy seats, 110v power sockets, good in-flight entertainment, surprisingly good food and an above-average drink and snack selection. If you’re lucky Singapore Airline staff might even hand out candies to passengers waiting in the terminal area before your flight!

Passengers frequently schedule in extra long layovers in the Singapore airport so they have enough time to take advantage of the fun activities, like the rooftop swimming pool, orchid garden and movie theater.

If that wasn’t enough, smoked salmon and Singapore Sling cocktails for everyone in economy class on Singapore Airlines? I’m sold.