For frequent flyers, the name "SKYTRAX" always sounds familiar.
SKYTRAX is basically a consultancy known for rating airlines.
When you are told an airlines has such rating, in most of the case, it will be a SKYTRAX rating.
So why do I want to talk about SKYTRAX today?
Simple - how exactly SKYTRAX rates airlines?
Here is an explanation from SKYTRAX:
Official World Airline Star Ranking
In term of the methodology, SKYTRAX mentions:
"Star Rating determination examines over 800 different areas of product and service delivery, and the complete listing is only available to airlines featured in the World Airline Star Ranking programme."
So do we know? No.
So how do we know it is accurate? Let me illustrate by an example - Age of Aircraft in Fleet.
6 5-star airlines (Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Hainan, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia) are given the following rating on this category:
4-star: Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Hainan, Qatar, Singapore
So how about the exact data in average (based on Airfleets.net)?
Asiana - 9.4 years
Cathay Pacific - 10.4 years
Hainan - 5.9 years
Qatar - 5.6 years
Singapore - 7.1 years*
Malaysia - 11.5 year
(* The actual data may be lower as the current data reflects Boeing 747-400s as in-service, which is not the case in the reality.)
Based on that, there is no doubt why Qatar scores 5-star and Malaysia scores 3.5-star in this category. But how about the rest? They are scored 4-star, but the range can go as low as 5.9 years to 10.4 years.
Should Hainan scores 5-star and Cathay Pacific score 3.5-start in this category instead? I don't know. Remember - the methodology is not known to the public.
Unknown methodology, questionable data - if these have not yet convinced you to question SKYTRAX's rating, continue to read.
Virgin America - an airline that is named by SKYTRAX at 2012 World Airline Awards for:
Best Domestic Airline in North America
Best Low-Cost Airline in North America
So do you want to guess its SKYTRAX's rating?
See it yourself.