Air travel is more popular now than ever before. Whether it is for business or pleasure, being connected between distant cities in a matter of hours is just one of the reasons why it is so popular. With the constant growth in popularity of social media, it is only natural for us to want to explore this amazing world of ours, and air travel is just something we have to do to achieve this.
From waiting for a flight and connecting between flights to patiently waiting because of a delay, airlines work over-time to ensure the satisfaction of their passengers by keeping on schedule as much as possible and providing unparalleled service. In saying that, there are some airlines that simply do not cut it. These range from short, domestic airlines to long-haul airliners, who do the bare minimum to transport passengers from point A to point B.
Buckle-up and read on, as we take flight and delve into 15 of the world worst airlines, and 10 that we would spend our hard-earned dollars on.
25 Avoid: Avianca Air
Based in Bogota, Colombia, Avianca Air is one of the oldest airlines in the world. It services domestic South American routes, as well as some intercontinental flights. There have been several tragic incidents involving Avianca, but none of recent. The main reason, according to Far and Wide, why Aviana Air is rated among the worst in the world, is due to its lack of customer service, luggage delays and delays of the aircraft. One passenger of the airline told Far and Wide “bad customer service is a gross understatement”.
24 Avoid: Frontier Airlines
A domestic American airline, Frontier has many competitors in its market. As with any low-cost carrier, Frontier does not fare well when it comes to delays, customer service, and boarding efficiency, per Escape Here. Furthermore, Skytrax gave the airline a 1.5 out of 5 rating for luggage delays and flight cancellations…pretty poor if you ask me. I think I would rather pay that little bit extra to have a higher chance of my bags greeting me at my destination!
23 Avoid: Air Koryo
North Korean airline, Air Koryo has had no close calls with the loss of life, and is even IOSA certified…so it seems odd that it would appear on this list. Let’s look a little closer. Travel Awaits says the airline was banned from airports within the EU in 2006 due to concerns regarding safety equipment onboard. As a result of this, Air Koryo has recently begun to improve safety standards and has been allowed back into EU airports, although rarely seen. What’s more is according to AirlineRatings, if a plane is made in Russia (which the fleet is) then the airline automatically loses one safety star. Telegraph UK even stated that the only in-flight entertainment are videos praising the North Korean Leader, and some photographers even secretly captured the cockpit with no digital screens! Whaaat!?
22 Avoid: Vueling Airlines
Spain’s second most popular carrier, Vueling offers travelers cheap tickets to over 130 destinations throughout Europe. Unlike most airlines, Vueling flights do not necessarily go via the country of origin and then on to the destination, you can simply hop on in one country and get off in another without touching Spanish soil. However, this all seems to come at a bit more of a cost than a cheap ticket. Far and Wide says they are not so great at service quality and processing claims for lost baggage, etc.
21 Avoid: Blue Wing Airlines
Based in Suriname, South America, Blue Wing Airlines is one of the worst of its kind in the world. The EU banned flights to all 25 countries because of a highly devastating and tragic safety record. According to Guyana Chronical, Blue Wing Airlines has been involved in 3 serious crashes since its launch in 2009, 2 of which ended with tragic fashion. The safety standards are simply not there, even the CEO himself said this…never mind delays and loss of luggage, if the safety standards aren’t there, nor am I!
20 Avoid: United Airlines
A well-known American airline…what is it doing here? Well, let me explain. Multiple passengers have dubbed United’s customer service and care as poor, some even going as far as saying it borders on abusive. Escape Here has brought up an indecent in 2013 whereby a United aircraft full of passengers simply coming to a halt on the taxiway and not moving for hours upon hours. As a result, they were fined $1 million USD. Oh, and we can’t forget the lack of on-time arrival, and luggage loss percentage is among some of the lowest going around. If I could recommend one thing…bring carry on only if you can.
19 Avoid: Tigerair
The Sydney Morning Herald has confirmed Tigerair is among the world’s worst airlines. The airline has subsidiaries in Australia and Asia, and comes in last in the Australian Federal Government’s Ombudsman ratings for the third consecutive year! There were complaints regarding delays, baggage, customer service and hidden fees for 47 passengers out of 1 million. If we compare this competitor in Australia and Asia, Jetstar Airlines (11 complaints per 1 million passengers), it becomes apparent how bad this airline really is.
18 Avoid: Nepal Airlines
The surrounding terrain doesn’t really help this airlines’ cause, and what’s worse, it fails to check every single safety box by AirlineRatings and was banned from the EU in 2013. Travel Awaits says this ban is due to an anomalous number of crashes. Seriously, why spend millions, if not billions of dollars on an airline when you can’t even reach the minimum safety standards…it will never make any sense to me! Nepal Airlines is somehow FAA rated, which has left many people scratching their heads.
17 Avoid: Pakistan International Airlines
Timeliness is not of sorts at Pakistan International Airlines, with Escape Here stating the airline has a 37% on-time rating, compared to the average of around 75%. Operating a small fraction of flights per month, compared to other national airline carriers, has not improved timeliness one bit. The airline was also given a mere 2 stars out of 5 for check-in, airport transfer service, and passenger assistance…an absolutely dismal performance. Staff has been noted for their lack of language skills, so ample communication is not of the essence at Pakistan Airlines.
16 Avoid: Lion Air
Perhaps the most recent airline to suffer a fatal tragedy, Lion Air is an airline based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aside from being well-known for domestic delays (while at the same time making sure their international flights are on-time), the airline is notorious for inattentive flight attendants who not only disregard safety by not double checking all phones off, etc., bumpier than usual flights. One passenger even told Quora that the man next to him was texting and calling throughout the whole flight and not once did a flight attendant tell him to put it away! Oh, and the flight crew has also been found to carry illegal substances only hours before flying! This is a massive cause for concern. Pay a bit more and avoid this airline at all costs.
15 Avoid: RyanAir
RyanAir takes a budget airline to a whole new level. It seems the Ireland based carrier has been cutting corners in order to offer travelers some of the cheapest fares available. A recent example of this actually, is when a RyanAir aircraft was seized at Bordeaux Merignac Airport due to unpaid fees to the French Government. Moving on, Elle Croft says it is when you enter the aircraft that you are made fully aware of the decision you’ve just made. Seats do not recline, picking a seat (even at check-in!) will cost you, and credit card fees too! I will leave you with their very own tagline “you get what you pay for”.
14 Avoid: Yeti Airlines
Yeti Airlines is a Nepalese based airline with one of the lowest ratings possible, at one-star. The mountainous terrain doesn’t help, with the airline being involved in 9 crashes in the last 8 years, per Travel Awaits. As a result, it was, and still is banned from EU airports, but as Travel Awaits states, this airline is pretty easy to avoid unless you need to travel domestically in Nepal for whatever reason. It is interesting to note that the EU has banned any aircraft that has been certified by Nepalese standards.
13 Avoid: SmartWings
Another low-cost carrier, this time from Eastern Europe. Escape Here says SmartWings is a recent airline operating out of the Czech capital, and are renowned for charging passengers non-refundable tickets, to then later cancel flights weeks in advance. There are reports that people have lost significant money as a result of this, and passengers must re-book on a different flight, my advice would be to just book with another airline and pay a bit more. The airline received one-star for product and service information, as well as check-in experience.
12 Avoid: Air Bulgaria
The national carrier for Bulgaria, Air Bulgaria has a total fleet size of 10 and operates throughout 26 destinations. According to Escape Here, there have been numerous safety scares for the airline, with some of the aircraft finding their way off the fairway and on to the rough (golf pun…). The EU prides itself on keeping safe skies, so it has been reported that Air Bulgaria have been watched closely. Passengers have given the airline negative ratings for assistance and transfers, as well as slow response time, however many have praised the in-flight service.
11 Avoid: Kuwait Airways
Far and Wide has told of some very troubling news regarding Kuwait Airways. There have been numerous scandals involving the carrier (we will let you research them yourself), and even an instance where a woman of Israeli nationality was denied access to the flight, simply because of her citizenship. Passenger complaints range from rude staff, lack of service and unhygienic aircraft. There is not a bright side to this airline in my opinion, even if they have maintained an above average on-time arrival because when we learned about the denied access to a female from a different religion/nationality, well we were not impressed.
10 Best: Singapore Airlines
The world’s best airline across pretty much every category, Singapore Airlines has edged out its main competitors by a country mile. According to Independent, the airline scooped up the awards, winning Best First Class, Best Airline in Asia and Best First Class Seat. While, on average, fares with Singapore Airlines come at a premium compared to other Asian carriers, if you want a seamless travel experience and don’t mind paying a bit more, flying with Singapore Airlines is not a question of will I, it is when will I. Changi Airport as the airlines home base also helps its cause too.
9 Best: Turkish Airlines
Servicing over 100 countries and 200 cities, Business Insider says Turkish Airlines is among the best airlines in the world. From 2010-2016, the airline won the Best Airline in Europe 6 years running, not a bad accolade to have given the sheer number of airlines it has to compete with. Turkish has been praised for its in-flight service and passenger assistance. The airline also hopes to turn its base in Istanbul into a global hub, like those in the Middle East.
8 Best: Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand is among the world’s best carrier, from service to flight experience and…even the Safety video? Irish Examiner explains. Yep, Frodo makes an appearance in the pre-flight safety announcement, which prompts people to actually watch it…clever. Furthermore, parents of minors who travel alone can sleep knowing their child is safe, due to alerts which are sent from the child’s wristband to their mobile phone. The airline makes a strong case for premium economy seating, winning the world’s best premium economy, and families who travel in economy class (99.9% of us) can request seating plans that can transform into flat beds! This airline does really seem to have all bases covered.
7 Best: Etihad Airways
Aside from operating in over 100 destinations, Etihad is most well-known for its recent additions to long-haul aircraft with ‘The Residence’. This is truly magnificent, as passengers get their very own suite at 40,000 feet. Set out like a luxury apartment, The Residences provide a sense of privacy and seclusion from an otherwise cramped plane. Forbes reassures the rest of us who don’t have money growing on trees, and much like its Middle Eastern acquaintances, its first and business class products are spot on. Despite the amazing choice of seating, the airline offers a 7-course in-flight menu and very attentive in-flight service.
6 Best: Swiss International Airlines
Everything in Switzerland seems to be just perfect. Stunning views, a bit of every culture, breathtaking scenery and every mode of public transport is on-time, to the millisecond. Business Insider says passengers have given the airline a positive rating for customer service both in the air and on the ground, as well as the wide selection of in-flight refreshments. To top it off, who can turn down a free Swiss chocolate? It is just a nice finishing touch for an already great experience.
5 Best: Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines is among the top percentage of 5-star airlines and has recently expanded its services to service some long-haul destinations. It is a full-service airline with an amazing backstory, all starting from the airline CEO, and prides itself on upholding the traditional exemplary Asian customer service. CNN Travel points out that Hainan Airlines edged out its much more popular competitors in the selection of business class flight amenities.
4 Best: Cathay Pacific Airlines
Like many other Asian airlines, Cathay Pacific is notable for its customer service, from the moment you walk into the airport until you collect your bags at the other end. Lajolla Mom states that they cater for business and leisure travelers, as well as families with exceptional lounges located throughout their hub in Hong Kong and a wide variety of in-flight meal and entertainment options. What’s more, it doesn’t matter what class you are in, you are provided with some of the best service going, or should I say flying around.
3 Best: Emirates Airline
Speaking from personal experience, Emirates is a great airline in all aspects. A higher than average baggage limit, clean aircraft, a great selection of foods and refreshments, and on top of that, delays are very rare with Emirates. Airline staff are very helpful and more than willing to assist in the blink of an eye. The only issue is not with the airline itself, however it lies with its base, Dubai International. Although it covers 3 massive terminals and many other amenities, it is quite over-priced, which does not do the airline justice.
2 Best: Qatar Airways
Once a secondary airline to Emirates, Qatar Airways has surpassed its rival to now be number 2 on the SkyTrax Best Airlines list. Offering many of the regular amenities like Emirates, Qatar has recently upgraded the majority of its fleet’s interior, taking a step above its competitor. CNN Travel confirms that at the 2018 awards, Qatar won Best First Class Lounge and Best Airline in the Middle East. Commonly seen as the gateway connecting the two hemispheres, Qatar Airways prides itself on providing passengers with a seamless connection between flights.
1 Best: Garuda Indonesia
Once a forgotten airline, Garuda has come up strong in the last 5 years, to win this year’s SkyTrax best cabin crew award throughout all cabin classes. This award will go up on the shelf with the same award from the last 4 years in a row. It may not offer extra amenities like Qatar and Emirates, and that is because Garuda mainly serves the Indonesia/Oceania region, but they do fly into Amsterdam. What it can offer passengers, however, is incomparable in-flight service, attending to your every need.