2013 Worst Airlines

I upset some people with my 2012 list of the worst airlines. One reader wrote “Sorry you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Another defended Tiger Airways which I would consider to be undefendable: “what is your problem!?! …tiger is alite! [sic – I think meaning elite] u r exhaggerating these airlines! these are not bad. do not listen to this person! they r provided wrong information!”

I beg to disagree!

Having now flown 985 times on 89 airlines, I have seen the best and worst of customer service, products and safety. My flights have taken me from airports as far north as Grimsey in Iceland to the deep southern airport of Invercargill, New Zealand. I have flown in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, Pacific and Europe. I have had a lot of discussions with other fliers about what constitutes a good and bad airline!
I also read Airline ratings.com and Skytrax. This all in all gives me a fairly good picture of what is going on!

So with some trepidation, here is my 2013 list in order from worst. ratings are based on my own evaluations of the carrier. Where I have not flown, the airline, ratings come from an averaging of Airline rankings and Skytrax.

1 Lion Air: 15%
Indonesia: Fleet: 98. Destinations: 79
Skytrax Rating: 2 star. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 52% Airline Ratings: 1/5

I have documented a few times my concern with rapidly growing Lion’s safety records. Airline ratings give them a safety rating of two out of seven. I won’t ever fly them.

They do get top marks for cheap fares but customer comments are less flattering:

What an absolute nightmare
Most disorganised airline ever
I would not recommend
Its cheap but it comes with a lot of suffering
The lack of customer service and disorganization has made us lose any hope we had in flying with Lion Air.

2.Air Zimbabwe – 21%

Zimbabwe: 1967. Fleet: 3? Destinations: 4? Employees: ?
Skytrax Rating: Star Ranking suspended Skytrax Passenger Rating: 28% Airline Ratings: No rating

I cannot believe they are still here. My memories are flights delayed because a government minister wanted the plane for his family to go shopping in London, cockroaches climbing the wall of the plane as we lifted off and no toilet paper on board.

3. Cubana (19%):
Cuba: 1930. Fleet: 15. Destinations: 20 Employees: ?
Skytrax Rating: 2 star. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 36% Airline Ratings Product Rating 2.5/7

With a safety record five times worse than the global average, nothing should entice you to experience their abysmal meals and lack of inflight entertainment. Flights often delayed 10+ hours. Skytrax reviewers give the carrier 3.6/10

4. Ryanair -22%

Ireland: 1984. Fleet: 298 Destinations: 179 Employees: 8,388.
Skytrax Rating: 2 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 35% Airline Ratings Product Rating: 2.5/5

As a result of poorer than usual financial results, the airline has surveyed its customers and is making changes. The changes, in my opinion, need to include their reported unethical behaviour, flight attendnacts who appear to have no interest in you, outrageous fees, “fake” airport destinations and an arrogant attitude to passengers.

Play by their rules, be happy to treat each air flight as a bus journey, you don’t care if you are delayed and are aware that Glasgow Prestwick is not actually in Glasgow and that the bus trip to the airport they use near Stockholm will take you longer than your flight in Europe, then Ryanair will be okay for you.

3. Spirit Air: 24%

USA: 1980 Fleet: 45 Destinations: 57 Employees: 2,580 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 20% Airline Ratings: 1.5/5

Ryan Air’s evil cross Atlantic twin. The fares may look cheap but watch for late and cancelled flights

4. Tiger Airways – 27%

Singapore: 2004 Fleet: 19 Destinations: 28 Employees: 2,580 Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 37% Airline Ratings Product Rating: 2.5/5 This is not an elite airline, sorry! See above.

Airline ratings gave the three airlines that carry the Tiger name five out of seven for safety but marked Tigerair Australia to 4/7 for safety.

5. Air China -28%

China: 1988 Fleet: 293 Destinations: 185 Employees: 24,474
Skytrax Rating: 3 star airline. Skytrax Passenger Rating: 45%. Airline Ratings Product Rating: 5/7.

Overall, Air China fell in approval. The drop was marked with Economy passengers but their business class offering has improved. Skytrax passenger forums are full of passengers saying “not recommended”.  Passengers complain of surly flight attendants, disappointing food, poor entertainment systems and a lack of international languages.

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%

8. United Airlines -58%

Consistently rated as one of the USA’s worst airline for passenger complaints and lost luggage.

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%

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.

10. Jetstar-63%

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.

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