I am often asked which airlines are best avoided. Having flown for over 3040 hours (0ver 18 weeks of my life!) with 83 airlines, there are some clear differences between the best and the worst! I rate each flight I take for every factor from Booking to Check in to deplaning. and keep a tally of my rating using Flightmemory.com. The scores averaged out give me the ranking of flights, airlines and airports. I have placed my score for each airline next to the airline name.
Here is my list for of the 2012 worst airlines, starting from the worst at number 1:
1. Ryanair -19%
Ireland: 1984. Fleet: 305 Destinations: 164 Employees: 8,388. Skytrax Rating: 2 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 35%
Every year I hope Ryanair will get a little better. Not a chance in 2012. Grumpy crews, crowded planes, non-transparent fares, and a “you are on your own if we mess up” attitude. Don’t take my word for it: Ryanair was recently voted Europe’s least popular short-haul airline by the readers of the British consumer publication My favourite reason not to like them: Covalence rates them as one of the most unethical companies in the world. Which?. I get the impression from the CEO down that passengers are to be treated like sheep being herded from one out of the way airport to another.
2.Air Zimbabwe – 20%
Zimbabwe: 1967 Fleet: 9? Destinations: 9? Employees: 1,234? Skytrax Rating: Star Ranking suspended Skytrax Passenger Rating: 28%
For most of the year, they were grounded. They now have a new plane and lots of legroom (LOL) Staff vary from friendly to grumpy but are not overly motivated (no pay for months may impact this). My two best memories were two cockroaches climbing the wall of the plane on the Harare bound flight as we took off and the other was the Flight Attendant recommending us not to fly with AirZim again!
3. Spirit Air-
USA: 1980 Fleet: 45 Destinations: 57 Employees: 2,580 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 20%
Upfront, I never actually got to fly Spirit in 2012, as the only flight I was to have had with them was cancelled. The cancellation occurred, as I arrived at the airport. I switched to another carrier rather than wait 24 hours for the alternative flight. However, an airline that charges up to one hundred dollars for a carry on bag has some serious issues. As one customer says: Truly the worst domestic airline experience I’ve ever had.
4. Tiger Airways – 27%
Singapore: 2004 Fleet: 19 Destinations: 28 Employees: 2,580 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 37%
Australia: 2007. Fleet: 11 Destinations: 8
Tiger operates as Tiger Airways Australia and Tiger Airways Singapore. I hate Tiger. Period. Now that Virgin have taken over Tiger Australia, it will be interesting to see what changes in Australia.
5. Air China -28%
China: 1988 Fleet: 293 Destinations: 185 Employees: 24,474 Skytrax Rating: 4 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 50%
Not to be confused with China Airlines. Air China is mainland China based and China Airlines is Taiwanese. Skytrax made Air China four star in 2011. I think the carrier missed the memo- old planes, old cabins, old seats, old food. Skytrax passenger forums are full of passengers saying “not recommended”. Where Air China really excel is when something goes wrong: you are on your own.
6. China Eastern -29%
China: 1988 Fleet: 302 Destinations: 110 Employees: 60, 000 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 50%
Every time, I look at airfare comparison sites, China Eastern offers flights at prices way, way below other carriers. Before you are tempted to book, consider my favourite quote about this airline from a customer: “China Eastern still don’t understand customer service“. I agree. Inconsistent meals, bland food, limited entertainment and very delayed flights will make you regret every cent you saved
7. Alitalia -30%
Italy: 19 Sep 1946 then 13 Jan 2009 Fleet: 112 Destinations: 86 Employees: ? Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 45%
Italy is home to some of the chicest things on the planet- just do not expect much chic on an Alitalia plane. Italians can be some of the warmest, most fun and most hospitable people on the planet- you just won’t find them amongst the demoralised Alitalia staff. Universally rude staff from reservations to check-in to on board. Italian cuisine is some of the most delicious on the planet – just don’t expect it to be served to you on an Alitalia plane. Lavatories never seem to be cleaned mid flight and are some of the most putrid aloft
8. United Airlines -58%
USA: 30 June, 1927 Fleet: 706 Destinations: 378 Employees: 85,000 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 45%
The merger with Continental has brought a few improvements but flying with United is rarely a pleasurable experience. I wonder sometimes if I delight in hating United? I did give them 5 out of 5 for an Indianapolis to Newark flight this year. JD Power in a June 2013, survey claimed that United were the second worst airline in North America. They gave the worst to USAir (who I for the first time have moved out of my top ten worst airlines!
9. American Airlines- 60%
USA: 1930 Fleet: 605 Destinations: 260 Employees: 78,000 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 36%
More demoralised staff sharing their unhappy attitude with their unhappy passengers. Combine that with uncomfortable seats, old planes and disappointing food. Having said that, of the 29 hours spent flying American this year (one day of my year effectively inside their aircraft), one hour of it (LAX to SFO) I actually described as a pleasant experience giving them 4 out of 5 for it!). JD Power nominated them as the third worst of North America’s Traditional carriers.
10. Air Asia – 63%
Malaysia: 2000. Fleet: 101 Destinations: 88 Employees: 8,000 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 76%
My business partner swears by Air Asia but I don’t like them. The airline IS cheap. It operates with one of the world’s lowest unit costs. What are you prepared to give up to save on money? Unless you fly Premium, there is nothing on board for you. Disabled people claim the airline does nothing to assist them. There is also a difference between their “Air Asia X” and “Air Asia” product with X being better. Frankly, I have to be honest, I don’t feel safe aboard them. Their on time performance is at 86% on time for arrivals. Still someone, keeps voting for them as world’s best low cost carrier, ahead of the brilliant Virgin America.
Australia: 2003. Fleet: 68 Destinations: 35 Employees: 7,000 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 55%
Australia’s favourite low cost airline -but not mine. Their Premium Product makes their experience much more bearable but I do all I can to avoid Jetstar. The airline often cancels and delays flights -without explanation. Airstats says only 72% of their flight arrivals are on time. On board catering is not very exciting and entertainment consists of DVD players that you can rent. The job of the cabin crew is to sell you all of the things that airlines used to give you for free: snacks, drinks and blankets. The airline is so unpopular with some that it has a Don’t fly Jetstar webpage dedicated to it.
I am not including North Korea’s one star airline Air Koryo on this list. The only time you will encounter them is if you fly into that state and I have yet to have that experience!. I would also not be in a hurry to fly Garuda Indonesian, most African carriers, Saudi Arabian, Egyptair or Aeroflot but have not tried them either.
My Top Ten airlines coming Saturday!
Air Koryo Goes Online
Air Zim Goes Monty Python
Trip Report: United LAX-ROC
Trip Report: American- LAX to SFO