If you’ve got a choice between 3 or 4 airlines, this list could be a lifesaver for you. The worst airlines in the world may (or may not) save you money, but there can be other hidden costs.
AirHelp ranks the world’s major airlines every year. We’ve taken a look at the 50 worst-ranked carriers, and explained why they are where they are.
The rankings are based on thousands of interviews with travelers, and cover four areas. Firstly, On-Time Performance; secondly, Customer Service; thirdly, Claims Processing — AKA, how easy is it to get a refund if you need one? And fourth, an Overall Score.
With that, let’s take a look at how these airlines stack up.
50. British Airways
British Airways provides pretty good service and claims processing. The number bringing them down the most is on-time arrivals (7.1/10). But British Airways isn’t really a bad airline. They’re just… not the greatest.
The largest German airline is a solid option if you’re in Europe and looking to get from point A to point B. They’re rated highly for service and claims processing. But if you absolutely need to be on time, they’re one of the worst airlines in Europe. They only score 6.5/10 for timeliness.
48. Oman Air
Oman Air is the flag carrier of Oman (duh). It’s mainly a regional carrier in the Middle East. In that region, you’ve got better options. Their on-time arrivals (7.1/10) and claims processing ratings bring them down (6.7/10).
47. Etihad Airways
Etihad is the flag-carrier of the United Arab Emirates. Its service quality is elite (8.8/10). But you’d better hope you don’t need to ask for money back. Their claims processing score is a pretty terrible 5.6/10.
46. China Southern Airlines
China Southern Airlines is one of China’s three biggest carriers. In a country of 1.5 billion people, that’s saying something. The service is exceptional, but CSA falls down a bit in terms of on-time arrivals (7/10) and claims processing (6.5/10).
45. Kenya Airways
It’s the flag carrier of Kenya (shocker), but this airline serves destinations in 41 countries. For on-time arrivals and service, Kenya Airways gets a B. But their claims processing (6.5/10) lands them on the list of worst airlines.
44. Azul Airlines
Azul is a Brazilian airline that places an emphasis on affordability. For the price, it provides elite service and consistently on-time arrival. However, you won’t get your money back. Their claims processing is rated 5/10.
43. El Al Israel Airlines
El Al is the flag carrier for Israel. They score 8.6/10 for service. However, the numbers are considerably lower for on-time arrival (6.1/10) and claims processing (7/10).
42. Olympic Air
Olympic is a Greek airline that services destinations in Greece and Cyprus. It’s a better option than Aegean Airlines (more on that later!) but its claims processing is among the very worst (4.1/10). No refunds!
Aeroflot is Russia’s biggest airline and flag carrier. They arrive on time (8.4/10) and serve you with Russian hospitality (8.6/10). However, as with many carriers, they won’t give you your money back. Their claims processing scores just 4.5/10.
40. Pegasus Airlines
Pegasus is a low-cost Turkish airline that serves the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe. It’s a familiar story we see with other discount airlines. That is to say, claims processing is bad (6/10).
Icelandair is Iceland’s flagship airline, serving primarily North America and Europe. Icelandair has decent service and decent claims processing. But it’s on-time performance is wanting (6.2/10).
Iberia is Spain’s flag airline; it serves destinations all over the world. It scores 8.2/10 for on-time arrives, and 8/10 for service. But it rates an abysmal 5.3/10 for claims processing. So not a bad option as long as you don’t end up needing a refund.
37. Swiss International Air Lines
Switzerland is a country known for competence and effeciency. So you might expect better from its national airline. While the service is good, claims processing (6.9/10) and on-time arrivals (6.7/10) are serious weaknesses.
36. Air India
Air India is that country’s largest airline. And that’s a big job. In terms of service, Air India does a great job (8.5/10). Less so with on-time performance (6/10) and claims processing (6.8/10).
35. Croatia Airlines
Croatia Airlines is the flag carrier of that country, mainly servicing definitions in Europe. Its on-time (7/10) and service (7.9/10) is middling. Claims processing, however, is pretty poor at 6.2/10.
34. Air Canada
Canadians will be perfectly familiar with complaints against their national airline. The best that can be said is it’s mediocre across the board. On-time arrivals: 6.6/10. Service: 7.5/10. Claims processing: 7/10.
33. Air China
China’s flag carrier has a lot of work to do. Taking that into consideration, they do a pretty good job. The numbers are mediocre across the board: 6.7/10 for punctuality, 7.5/10 for service, and 7/10 for claims processing.
airBaltic is the flag carrier of the Baltic nation of Latvia. While its on-time arrival rating and overall service are passable, it lands on this list because of its claims processing (5.7/10).
31. Air Europa
Air Europa is Spain’s third largest airline. It flies into the Americas, Europe, and Morocco. Like many other carriers, its only truly bad aspect is its claims processing (5.3/10).
30. Thai Airways International
Thailand’s national airline flies to every continent except South America. (Well, and Antarctica if you want to get technical.) Once again, the devil is the claims processing (5.1/10). Airlines just don’t like to give money back, do they?
29. Air Transat
Why is Canada cursed with so many underwhelming airlines? Air Transat is the country’s third airline, focusing on Canadian cities, Europe, and the Caribbean. The real killer here is the on-time arrival rating (5.7/10). If you’re in no rush and looking for a low-cost flight… Air Transat could serve. But if you need to make a transfer, don’t count on it.
Eurowings is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, a discount option. The service gets a B- (7.1/10). However, claims processing (6.9/10) and punctuality (6.6/10) are more like a C.
27. Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian is the flag carrier of that nation, and serves more destinations in Africa than any other line. Just don’t expect to get there on time, or to be compensated for the delay. They score 6.7/10 for punctuality and 6.2/10 for claims processing.
26. Aer Lingus
For what it’s worth, I’ve flown Aer Lingus and I had a great time. But I guess you could say the numbers don’t lie. The service is excellent (8.2/10). However, punctuality is a concern (6.8/10), and claims processing is downright bad (5.4/10).
25. Aegean Airlines
Aegean is Greece’s biggest airline and flag carrier. It’s punctual and the service is friendly. But the claims processing rates an unacceptable 4.2/10.
Saudia is Saudi Arabia’s national airline, though it also serves destinations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States. Timeliness is a bit of an issue (7.1/10). But again: the real problem here is claims processing (4.1/10).
23. Air Dolomiti
Air Dolomiti is a small Italian airline. It mostly flies into airports in that country, though it does serve destinations as far afield as Russia. It gets a solid B for punctuality and politeness, but an F for claims processing (4.9/10).
22. Air Malta
Air Malta is the flagship airline of that Mediterranean island nation. The claims processing is bad (6.8/10). But the rating for on-time arrivals are worse (5.2/10).
Finnair is (you guessed it) the flag carrier and principal airline in Finland. Yet again, the issue is claims processing (4.3/10).
Avianca is Colombia’s flag carrier. The service is great (8.3/10). Punctuality, less so (6.9/10). Claims processing, no not at all (4.4/10).
Jet2 is a discount airline based out of the UK. It services Europe, Israel, Africa, and the U.S. As a discount option, it’s likely preferable to some of your other candidates. But its punctuality is suspect (6.4/10) and its claims processing also isn’t winning any awards (5.5/10).
TAROM is the flag carrier of Romania. It serves destinations all over the world. It’s really a shame they’re on this list. They do everything well except claims processing. That number is so low (3.9/10) that it drags everything else down.
17. Asiana Airlines
Asiana is the second biggest airline in South Korea after Korean Air (more on them later). While their service is good, flights are often not on time (6.3/10) and claims processing is an F (4.9/10).
16. China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern is the second largest carrier in China. Service is good (8/10) and punctuality is only slightly subpar (6.9/10). The pattern continues. It’s the claims processing (4.9/10) that makes China Eastern a fixture on this list.
15. Gol Intelligent Airlines
Gol is the largest domestic carrier in Brazil. For a discount airline, it’s mostly excellent. It rates 7.8/10 for on-time arrivals and 8.1/10 for service. Its claims processing (3.1/10) is abysmal, however.
14. Czech Airlines
Czech Airlines is the flag carrier of the Czech Republic. It’s a smaller airline, mainly serving Europe with a few destinations in the Middle East and Asia. While their customer service earns a B+, their punctuality (6.3/10) and claims processing (5.2/10) are both pretty suspect.
13. Air Mauritius
Air Mauritius is the flagship airline of that picturesque island nation in the Indian Ocean. It’s small, but serves major destinations in Europe, China, Australia, India, and Africa. Unfortunately, while it’s punctual enough and provides good service, it has some of the worst claims processing of any carrier on this list (3/10).
12. TAP Air Portugal
TAP is Portugal’s major airline. While the service merits a B+ rating, on-time arrivals (5.2/10) and claims processing (5.3/10) are both less than spectacular.
11. Vueling Airlines
Vueling is a discount airline out of Spain and that country’s largest airline. It gets a B for service, a C for punctuality, and an F for claim processing. On the other hand, if you’re looking to save money on a quick flight… you could do worse.
10. Adria Airways
Adria recently went bankrupt, but it still makes our list. No wonder they were so bad at claims process (3.8/10). It’s hard to hand out refunds when you’re going bust.
9. Aerolíneas Argentinas
As the name suggests, this is Argentina’s flag carrier and largest airline. It serves destinations in the Americas, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Amazingly, it scores A ratings in on-time arrivals and overall customer service. But it has the second worst claims processing of any airline (1.8/10).
Transavia is a Dutch discount airline, a subsidiary of KLM. It earns a B for customer service (7.4/10). But that’s brought down by a shaky record of on-time arrivals (6.2/10) and straight-up bad claims processing (3.9/10).
Lauda is a discount Austrian airline and subsidiary of Ryanair (more on them later). The customer service is decent (7.4/10), but it’s not the most punctual (5.1/10) or the quickest to give you your money back (4.6/10).
Norwegian is a discount airline and the largest carrier in Norway. It gets a B for punctuality, and a B+ for customer service. But it gets an F for claims processing (2.3/10). That’s the cost of choosing a discount carrier, generally speaking.
Ryanair is one of the most famous (or infamous) discount airlines in the world. It’s based out of Dublin, Ireland. You won’t pay much, but nor will you get much. Ryanair scores 6.5/10 for punctual arrivals, 6.8 for customer service, and 3.5/10 for claims processing.
4. Korean Air
Korean Air is the flag carrier and largest airline in South Korea. You would think they could do better. In fact, it rates fairly for punctuality (6.9/10), and service (8/10). However, it has the worst claims processing of any airline (1.6/10).
3. Kuwait Airways
Guess which country this airline is based out of. It services 34 international destinations, so Kuwait Airways isn’t huge. It’s not hard to see why. While customer service is good (7.9/10), on-time arrivals are rare (4.2/10)
easyJet is yet another discount airline based out of the UK. As cheap airline go, it does pretty well in two categories. It scores 6.7/10 for on-time arrivals and 7/10 for service. However, it only rates 2.2/10 for claims processing.
1. Thomas Cook Airlines
Now defunct but still on the list, Thomas Cook takes the bottom spot. It did customer service reasonably well (7.6/10). However, timeliness was an issue (5.6/10), and claims processing was disastrous (2.5/10).