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11 of the World's Worst Airlines for 2017

Picture of Tara Jessop
Updated: 15 September 2017

If you think all airline companies are created equal, you’re wrong. Whether it’s on-board entertainment, customer service, food or timeliness, there are a number of different criteria which make some of the world’s airline companies stand out – for all the wrong reasons. Based on results by Skytrax and AirHelp, here are some of the companies you may want to avoid in 2017. 

Bulgaria Air

Founded by the Bulgarian government back in 2002, today Bulgaria Air features on a number of air travel black lists, including the US list of airlines which operate with equipment unfit for travel within US airspace. Its ten-plane fleet flies to some 26 destinations, although figures from Flight Stats suggest a 100% cancellation rate for flights to some cities like Varna, Sofia, and Vienna.

China Airlines

When it comes to air travel, safety is usually high on people’s list of priorities. Unfortunately for them, Air China is currently ranked as one of the world’s deadliest airline with some eight plane losses and a fatality count of over 750 passengers. There have been a number of high profile crashes, as well as plane’s slipping off the runway and the mid-air disintegration of one of its planes in 2002. Although the company has made efforts to improve its fleet since, its safety record is still one of the worst in history.


Europe seems to have a love-hate relationship with low-cost airlines and Ryanair is a fine example of how the relationship sometimes veers more towards the ‘hate’. Flight cancellations and delays make up much of customer’s frustrations with the Irish airline although the hidden costs associated with the booking and check-in process are also bemoaned by travellers.


The Czech Republic’s SmartWings has recently been getting some attention online with growing complaints on websites like TripAdvisor. Frequent points of criticism include the lack of food available on board, frequent flight cancellations with limited or no explanation and overall poor on-board service.


Having recently been rated third worst airline by ranking website AirHelp, TunisAir has been reported to offer very poor customer service, with staff on the ground unable to provide clear and coherent help when flights are delayed and there are problems with baggage loss. Many customers reported a general sense that the service was just not up to scratch compared to other airline carriers.


Another European low-cost airline with a track record of ticking customers off, EasyJet is infamous for delayed flights and cancellations. As soon as problems start with EasyJet, it seems the company just struggles to catch-up and correct its mistakes. Customers have complained of being offered little or no help by staff on the ground when flights are delayed, often having to cover the added cost of alternative travel arrangements themselves (or waiting days or even weeks for a reply from the company).

 Turkmenistan Airlines

A quick Google search for Turkmenistan Airlines will soon show a track record of being considered one of the world’s worst airline companies. Their slogan ‘symbol of hospitality’ seems to have been lost on some of their staff, with reports of rude stewards and unhelpful ground staff. The booking experience is also reported as being complicated, confusing and inefficient.

American Airlines

There’s no denying that 2016 was a bad year for American Airlines. After videos emerged on social media of the American Airlines staff forcibly removing a passenger, or a woman being hit in the face by a pram by another member of staff, suffice to say that customers have been slightly put off travelling with the US giant.

Cubana Airlines

Old planes which make a lot of noise, unfriendly staff and frequent flight cancellations and delays are just some of the problems which Cubana Airlines is renowned for. The state-run Cuban airline received a two-star Skytrax rating but despite this, customer complaints online seem to suggest that the airline is in desperate need of a new fleet and that customer service could be improved.


Based out of Jakarta in Indonesia, LionAir is the second largest low-cost airline in South East Asia. The airline has repeatedly been ranked as one of the poorest in terms of customer experience, with small seats and cramped conditions only adding to the frustration of flight cancellations and unexpected delays.

 Frontier Airlines

If you’re planning on travelling during peak holiday season, you may want to avoid booking with Frontier Airlines. The American low-cost airline based out of Denver recorded only 72% of its flights arriving on schedule in the summer months of 2014, 2015 and 2016.