Scheduling flights and purchasing airline tickets is a necessary part of traveling, for business or for pleasure. It’s just part of the process because a century, 15 years, and a few months from the day Wilbur and Orville successfully flew one, the airplane is still the fastest means of traveling today. That fact, out of all the innovations and advances we are making today, makes flying as necessary as a pair of underwear we pack in our suitcase before we go traveling. Now, this depends on where we are going, but most of the time, we are faced with airline options. We just choose what’s cheapest, or what’s most convenient, or even what’s popular or familiar.
This article will share with you ten of the best budget airlines traveling internationally, any one of which you might come across in future bookings and reservations. While WOW Air is at the top of the list of cheap airlines, we took them out because it is on the top of the list of airlines to avoid, too. We all know that Spirit Airlines is notorious when it comes to air travel, so we took them off the avoid-list. The 10 airlines to avoid are for reasons ranging from safety, security, and overall customer satisfaction. The 10 best are the cheapest, but with very good overall customer satisfaction scores as well.
20 Best: AirAsia X
With more than 40 destinations, AirAsia X is the largest low-cost airline in Asia. It is also one of the best budget airlines, not just in Asia, but in the world. With current and previous landing destinations in New Zealand, Australia, London, Paris, Honolulu, and every major city in almost all countries of Asia, AirAsia X is the premier airline for the budget traveler. What started as a Kuala Lumpur to Australia flight destination blew up to more than 40 today, and is growing and expanding every day. They maintain a quality that competes with the top airlines out there, while they still are recognized as one of the cheapest airlines out there. This is why AirAsia is at the top of this list.
19 Best: WestJet
WestJet is Canada’s, AirAsia X. It is the largest low-cost airline in Canada. A favorite among UK travelers. Aside from numerous destinations in the Americas, they also have two routes that land in London and Glasgow. Other destinations are Paris, Dublin, and the Cayman Islands. Second, only to Air Canada, Westjet is not just the leading low-budget carrier in Canada, it is also the second largest out of all kinds of airlines, big or small, in the country. A company that started in 1996, with destinations in Western Canada, hence the name, it is now a world-famous airline chosen by most because of cost, quality, safety, and convenience.
18 Best: Jetstar Airways
Australia’s most popular airline and its flag carrier is Qantas. Qantas had a son and he called it Jetstar. Jetstar is starting to step out of its father’s big shadow and made a name for itself as one of the best low-cost airlines in the world. With the bulk of its destinations in Australia and New Zealand, Jetstar’s reach extends to the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji, China, Vietnam, and Honolulu. Its aircraft count is up to 71 today, not bad for a low-budget airline. Surely enough, that number will increase as they also have made orders for almost a hundred more aircraft for the future.
17 Best: EasyJet
Sometimes, we tend to get what we paid for in terms of budget airfare. There is a certain kind of expectation that we tend to lower once we opt for that cheap airline. This is the case for several airlines in this article. Fortunately, Easyjet came out on top of that list. With the highest marks out of all the low-cost airlines with relatively unsatisfactory ratings in quality of service and other factors, Easyjet just had enough to make it to this part of the article. With 132 destinations and serving more than 81 million customers in 2017, the London-based, orange-clad Easyjet is one of the good ones out there.
16 Best: Air India Express
One of the youngest airlines in this article, Air India Express began operations just 13 years ago in April. What started out as 3 flights are now flying to 30 different destinations. The majority are all over India, but it also lands in the major cities of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, and Singapore. If you are planning on a vacation and destination hops within India and the Middle East, this airline just might be your best bet for cheap travel. A growing company, Air India Express will soon become one of the best known low-cost airlines in Asia, and soon enough, the world.
15 Best: AirAsia
AirAsia is the big sister of AirAsia X, founded 24 years ago in December, it is 14 years older than her younger sister. With 89 aircraft in its fleet and 74 destinations, AirAsia is no doubt the largest airline in Thailand. Its hubs are all over Asia, too, with affiliate airlines in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and India. Hailed by the New York Times as an Asian pioneer in low-cost travel back in 2007, AirAsia has been consistently at the top of the list of the world’s best budget airlines, awarded by World Airline Awards. Fares go as low as 11 cents per mile. That’s what budget is all about.
14 Best: Eurowings
Lufthansa is Germany’s largest airline, operating with a fleet of 283 planes, not including subsidiaries, and is one of the major players in the industry. Its subsidiary, Eurowings, is also one of the better low-cost airlines in the world. Eurowing was founded in 1993, but it did not convert to a budget airline until 4 years back. Destinations are mostly within Europe, but they also fly to Mexico, Thailand, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Barbados, New York, Miami, Seattle, and soon, Las Vegas. Eurowings is fast becoming the airline of choice for travelers wanting to explore Germany and the rest of Europe on a budget.
13 Best: Southwest Airlines
Southwest is the Bill Gates of budget travel. Its business strategy was so successful that at least two other successful airlines used it for their own (Easyjet and Ryanair). Southwest is an American company based in Dallas, Texas. To date, it is the largest low-cost airline in the world. It was founded as Air Southwest in 1967 and changed to its current name in 1971. It has a massive fleet of 732 aircraft and has destinations, but operates only in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Future destinations include four airports in Hawaii and one more in the US.
12 Best: Primera Air
Primera Air is an airline founded in Iceland back in 2003 and it started as JetX. In 2008 it changed its name to Primera Air. The company’s main offices are now located in Latvia. They have a rather small fleet of 14 aircraft but flies to 18 countries (some first flights scheduled in the near future) including new destinations like Montreal, Tel Aviv, Manchester, and New York. One can get the cheapest flight from Boston or Washington then cross the Atlantic to sweet destinations in Northern Europe. With more revenue and a steadily increasing customer base, this airline will go global in the next few years.
11 Best: Norwegian
Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, Norwegian Airlines has been around for 25 years but just started in the budget airline business in 2002. It is increasing its long-haul destinations steadily every year, from Europe to the United States, Singapore, and in the near future, Japan, China, and Florida. Norwegian is an airline service that is quality-based, that’s where they came from and is not a stranger to the norm. This is why it’s a good choice to travel from your city, whether it’s Chicago, Denver, LA, Seattle, Austin, or Miami, to your European gateway, Norway. Enjoying Europe can be cheaper than it usually is thanks to Norwegian.
10 Avoid: Buddha Air
Most of the airlines on this list are here because of issues in safety, on-time performance scores claim processing ratings, and overall quality of service (AirHelp ranking). Buddha Air starts us off in this list, with a fleet of 11 aircraft and services only three countries as its destinations: Bhutan, India, and Nepal. An unfortunate accident happened to one of Buddha Air’s aircraft in 2011, a 19-capacity Beechcraft 1900 crash-landed near TIA (Tribhuvan International Airport), Kathmandu’s international airport. There were no survivors. Sixteen passengers and three crew members perished in what was known as the Buddha Air Flight 103. Initial investigations ruled that the cause of the crash was pilot error. We might want to avoid this airline at all costs.
9 Avoid: WOW Air
Wow Air is one of the most popular budget airlines out there, but it is on this side of the list because of glaring scores in quality of service, claims processing and on-time performance. Wow Air is a company based in Ireland. It’s CEO is Skúli Mogensen, an Icelandic financial investor, but with the biggest stakes in Wow Air. The airline serves numerous destinations in the United States and Europe, cities that include Barcelona, London, Toronto, Copenhagen, Dublin, Paris, and even Tel Aviv. By December they are breaking ground and landing in India. But the numbers are not good for Wow Air, they are last in AirHelp’s rankings.
8 Avoid: Nepal Airlines
The oldest airline in Nepal was founded 60 years ago in 1958, and at that time it was the Royal Nepal Airlines. Now known as Nepal Airlines, this corporation has the distinct honor of being the flag carrier of Nepal. Unfortunately for Nepal, the airline has a long list of accidents that make it one of the most dangerous airlines to fly on. In the 1960s alone, at least 40 people (passengers and crew) were killed, and 23 in the 1970s. In the next years, there were fewer incidents, but in 1984, 1991, 1995, and 2000, there were crew and passenger fatalities. There were just a lot in its history to raise a red safety flag to any traveling person, so let’s just steer clear.
7 Avoid: Royal Jordanian Airlines
Like Nepal Airlines is the carrier for Nepal, the Royal Jordanian Airlines is the flag carrier of the country of Jordan. And just like Nepal Airlines, the list of accidents that happened with Royal Jordanian Airlines flights is alarmingly long. They have, on record, 13 accidents to date. Although there are only four since then. The worst of which was a crash that happened in 1973. It’s known as the Kano Air Disaster, where 176 people died. It was the worst accident in the history of aviation at the time. The good thing is that the last fatality in the airline was in 1979, but it would still be good advice to avoid the airline altogether.
6 Avoid: Tara Air
Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, and both of them made it to this list, unfortunately. This company was founded in 2009 and has in its fleet a total of 6 planes. There were originally 7, but one crashed in 2016. That was so fresh it was like yesterday. It was Tara Air Flight 193, with 20 passengers and three crew members. It disappeared in the sky and from the control towers just minutes after takeoff. The debris from the fallen plane was found in a district of Nepal with zero survivors. No matter what, just try to avoid this airline.
5 Avoid: Pakistan International Airlines
Pakistan International Airlines is the third worst airline as ranked by Airhelp. With the 4th worst on-time performance rating and the second worst in overall quality service at 6 out of 10 (tied with 7 other airlines), Pakistan International is one airline we would not want to book for the sheer headaches and inconveniences it poses for us as passengers. At least they have a better claims processing score of 4.22 points. With destinations from all over the globe and as Pakistan’s flag carrier, it’s easy not to miss this airline but do not, under any circumstances, book flight, unless it’s the last option.
4 Avoid: Yeti Airlines
An airline with eight active airplanes in its fleet and nine destinations in Nepal, it is a small business compared to every other airline in this list. One would think they would be doing well in terms of making sure every machine, rotor, and engine is working perfectly, but it’s not like that. Yeti Airlines is one of the worst airlines in terms of safety ratings. Four accidents in so few flights is a red flag, and fatalities of 24 passengers is a no-fly for us travelers. There must be other options for flying in these areas other than Yeti and Tara Air. Just remember these two names when you book a vacation and want to see Mount Everest.
3 Avoid: EasyJet
Here's the flipside to Easyjet. They are one of the best budget airlines in the world, but be careful because it could also get worse for you as a passenger. Its on-time performance score is 79 percent. That’s not too bad considering the other ones at the bottom of AirHelp’s list. Another good thing is the quality of service. Easyjet takes care of their passengers with an 8 out of 10 rating, now that’s really good! So why is it on this list? Easyjet is the second worst airline (second only to Royal Jordanian Air) when it comes to claims processing. With a score of 1.3, that puts Easyjet on this list. Everything else is okay, just make sure you book the right flight and hope it does not get canceled or grounded for whatever reason.
2 Avoid: Air Koryo
Who would have thought that there’s an airline, let alone an airport, in North Korea? Of course, there is, there’s one in Pyongyang, at least. Then there’s North Korea’s flag carrier airline, Air Koryo. A state-owned airline founded in 1950, Air Koryo has 19 planes in its fleet and serves 20 destinations, but only in its own country, China, and Russia. But Air Koryo is one of the airlines with a bad reputation for safety. Although there were only four recorded accidents in its almost 70 years of operation, and just 23 fatalities, the concerns about the accidents are all technical and mechanical, and those that could essentially have been avoided.
1 Avoid: Air Mauritius
The ninth worst airline out of 72 international airlines ranked by AirHelp is Air Mauritius. What makes it worse is its on-time performance. So imagine common delays, getting held back at the airport, and all the usual stuff that makes us uneasy, and tests our patience, Air Mauritius offers all that. If we are going on a vacation to relax, we might want to avoid one of the worst airlines that promises inconvenience with their flight schedules. Air Mauritius flies to all continents, so just remember the name, and look for other options first before booking them.