Don’t worry, we’ll also tell you which airlines will give you a taste of heaven
Isn’t flying a magical experience? Cotton-wool clouds and pure blue skies; the welcoming smiles of the stewardesses; a friendly chat with your neighbour… all topped off with a burst of applause when the plane makes its triumphant landing.
Actually, no. Flying – at least 98% of the time – is a terrifying experience. Being forced to strip down to your undies to get through security; screaming tots running up and down the aisle; sloshed stag parties singing the same Robbie Williams song repeatedly; inedible food; take-off anxiety; turbulence; the drinks cart; the claustrophobia; and the guy who wants to spend the entire flight telling you everything that was wrong with his ex-wife.
What’s already a potentially traumatic experience can hoist you up to stratospheric levels of misery if you happen to pick the wrong airline. And, since we don’t want to you to have to go through that, here’s a list of the best and worst airlines in the world, as rated by global ranking organization Skytrax and published by Airlinequality.
Let’s start with the cream of the crop. The following nine airlines were awarded 5 stars: ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Hainan Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.
Next, with four stars, are some of the biggest airlines such as Air France, Air Canada, British Airlines, China Airlines and Virgin Australia, among others.
Flying is, 98% of the time, a terrifying experience
OK, now let’s delve down to the bottom of the barrel. The dubious distinction of being the only airline to receive a single star goes to Air Koryo. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of them, that might be because Air Koryo is the state-owned national flag carrier of North Korea: not the most obvious of tourist destinations.
If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to North Korea any time soon, you can be assured of an experience akin to time travel, since this airline has apparently not changed much since Soviet times.
As you board the plane, the stewardesses, clad in regime uniforms, will offer you the English-language edition of the Pyongyang Times and the French and English versions of the Pyongyang Sinmun. The seats are rusty and the in-flight ‘entertainment’ is essentially government propaganda. The use of cameras and smartphones is strictly forbidden.
As for the menu, you have two options: a ‘meat’ hamburger or soggy rice in dirty looking water. However, not everything about the airline is terrible. Air Koryo has only had one accident throughout its history, and its flights always run on time. Might that have something to do with pilots’ fear of getting on the wrong side of the Supreme Leader?
So now we’ve got the best and the worst out of the way, how about those airlines that are simply a bit… meh? The mediocre, the so-so, the run-of-the-mill? In this unremarkable list, we find most of those much-maligned low-cost airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Wow, Wizz and Germanwings. These all get three stars, which just goes to show that however much we may complain about Ryanair et al, there are worse options out there.
Two-star airlines – those just teetering on the brink of being really bad – include Bahamasair, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Bulgaria Air, China United Airlines, Cubana de Aviación, Iran Air, Lion Air, Mahan Air, Nepal Airlines, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines, Rossiya Airlines, SmartWings, Spirit Airlines, Sudan Airways, SyrianAir, Tajik Air, Turkmenistan Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, and Yemenia.
They’ll probably get you to your destination in one piece, but if you like to be taken to heaven and back when you travel, then you’d better take off with another airline.