You’ve been warned.
Airlines can be hauntingly terrible: uncomfortable seats, stale and pricey food, lack of entertainment, delays and cancelations, and unsympathetic staff to top it all off. If you’ve ever faced this first hand, you know it’s not an experience you’ll ever want to revisit, no matter how tempting the fare.
To save travelers from the perils of unsavory flying experience, luggage storage company Bounce analyzed popular airlines on seven factors: passenger complaints, punctuality, maximum free baggage allowance, comfort, meals, in-flight entertainment, and staff service. Among the winners was Delta, which took the top spot in the domestic airlines category, followed by Hawaiian Airlines and Horizon Air. On the international front, Japan’s All Nippon Airways and Singapore Airlines beat the competition with great service and fewer complaints.
But you know which airlines are scraping the bottom of the barrel? Here’s a list of the worst airlines in the world with damning scores on the abovementioned factors. Now you know what not to book!
Top Picks for You
Viva Air Colombia
Colombia’s low-cost airline received an overall airline index of 3.4 out of 10 and won the title of the worst airline in the world. It carries 22.55 million passengers annually and operates 40,000 flights in a year according to Bounce. It had one of the lowest number of complaints, but scored 1 (out of 5) in staff service, meals, seat comfort, and entertainment. Ouch!
Another low-cost airline, VivaAerobus is a Mexican company with a 14-year history. It flies internationally to a number of cities in the U.S., including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. The deal-breakers, according to the scores, were meals, seat comfort, and in-flight entertainment—all earned a 1, while staff service was slightly better at 2. Passengers onboard have to pay for food and beverages, which can’t be a winner.
The third worst airline in the world is also a Mexican budget-friendly carrier. It allows just 10kgs of maximum baggage and had 379 complaints between January-June 2021. It’s expected to make a profit for 2021, the study revealed, but “due to the airline discontinuing in-flight entertainment in 2019, it has one of the lowest scores in our index.” The overall airline index is 4 out of 10 for this ultra-low-cost carrier.
Slightly better off at 4.2—still the world’s fourth-worst airline—is the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair. There is no in-flight entertainment offered to passengers on Ryanair and—this is by far their worst offense—there’s no free baggage allowance. Read their bag policy here.
With more complaints than Volaris but better scores on meals and seat comfort, Mexican airline Interjet is also in the top 10 list. The debt-ridden airline hasn’t operated any flights since December 2020, but it’s planning to restart operations in 2022 with 10 Airbus 320. It’s been quite a headline-capturing ride for the company that’s facing bankruptcy and dealing with the arrest (and since release) of one of its owners, Alejandro del Valle.
Spanish low-cost airline Vueling dropped the ball on in-flight entertainment, and landed with a score of 5 out of 10 overall. Interestingly, in another analysis of airlines based on punctuality, the European carrier bagged the third spot for being on time. So if you’re okay skipping the new Spiderman movie in flight (although the carrier is introducing Wi-Fi to all its flights soon), Vueling will get you to your destination as scheduled.
The strike against EasyJet—as with Ryanair—is the lack of free baggage allowance. The UK-based carrier reported few complaints and did well on most markers other than in-flight entertainment, but not letting passengers check-in luggage for free has hurt its ratings.
Thankfully, these two are the only airlines on the list to have a 0 next to their Maximum Baggage Allowance (kg) category, while four others top the charts with 32 kgs (Air Europa, Air Canada, Qantas, and La Compagnie).
Ukraine International Airlines
The flagship carrier of Ukraine received an overall score of 5.3. Its in-flight entertainment stands at a 1, while staff service is pretty good at 3. There were just 33 complaints in the six-month period.
The state-owned flagship carrier of Portugal, TAP Air Portugal has the most complaints: 1,530! The average category scores of threes and twos would have kept it out of the bottom 10, had it not been struck down (hard) by customer woes.
The Brazilian low-cost airline had just 16 complaints, one of the lowest, and received good scores on staff service and seat comfort (3 out of 5 each). Its initiation into the top 10 worst airlines in the world is due to lack of in-flight entertainment, a factor that earned it a 1 out of 5.