Anyone who’s ever flown will know how stressful delayed flights can be: not only do you end up having to hang around an airport for hours (and let’s face it, no matter how many shops, restaurants and ‘chill-out areas’ they introduce, airports are still some of the most hellish places on earth), there’s also the risk of missing interconnecting flights, having to find unexpected accommodation in cases of lengthy delays, or even rearranging your travel plans entirely. When it comes to on-time performance, some airlines are worse than others. It’s the same story when it comes to claims processing for delayed or canceled flights- some airlines will handle your claim with at least some regard for timeliness, while others will add insult to injury by making you wait for anything up to a year (I kid you not) before settling. Using data from ClaimCompass, we’ve pulled together a list of the top 20 worst airlines in the world in 2019 so fly with them at your own risk:
20. Jet Airways
Coming in at number 20 on our list is Jet Airways (NOT Jetblue). While it may not be the worst offender in our rundown, it’s got a long way to go if it wants to make it to the best. Or it did have, at least. In July 2019, the airline (which until that point had been the 2nd largest airline in India) suspended all flights after revealing it had commenced insolvency proceedings. The decision was no doubt helped along by the massive $6.3 billion drop in profits it witnessed over the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
19. Germanwings (4U)
Based in Cologne, Germanwings (as the name suggests), is the sister wing of the low-cost economy airline, Eurowings. Back in 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525 was involved in a horrific crash that resulted in the death of all 144 passengers and 6 crew members. An investigation into the incident found the crash had been deliberately caused by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had previously been declared medically “unfit to work’ after displaying suicidal tendencies. Germanwings may have changed their policies to ensure such an incident doesn’t happen again, but they’ve got lots to make up for when it comes to delays, customer dissatisfaction, and lost luggage.
18. Air Mauritius (MK)
With 29.02% of its flights delayed by at least 15 minutes (and the average delay adding up to a massive 54.9 minutes), Air Mauritius really isn’t excelling at hitting those deadlines at the moment. It’s not exactly doing great when it comes to customer service either: on average, it takes 22.3 days just to acknowledge receipt of a claim, and another 87 days to resolve it. With those kinds of delays, you can understand why its customers aren’t exactly dancing in the aisles.
17. Air India (AI)
With average delays of 51.53 minutes and a whopping 39.51% of flights delayed by 15 minutes or longer, allow a long gap between connecting flights if you plan on flying Air India. If you do happen to miss your flight and want to lodge a complaint, expect to wait 40.2 days for them to get around to replying and 33.5 days to settle. It may be the flag carrier for India, but if you have a choice, avoid it where you can.
16. Air Serbia (ASL)
Creeping onto our list at 16th place is Air Serbia, the flag carrier of Serbia. Despite being around since 1927, it clearly still has a lot to learn when it comes to customer service: if you log a claim, expect to have a full head of grey hair and dentures by the time you get a reply. With acknowledgment of claims taking at least 50.3 days to be sent, resolutions taking a massive 287 days, and compensation taking 171 days after the case was sent to court to be paid, you have to ask yourself whether there’s anyone still awake at Air Serbia.
15. Air Malta (KM)
If you book a flight with Air Malta, you stand only a 64.11% chance of arriving at your destination on time, and a 35.89% chance of being 15 minutes late or longer (with average delays coming in at 48.21 minutes). When it comes to claims, they’re not doing quite so badly as some others, but they’re still light years away from where they should be. Expect to wait 31.3 days to hear back if you make a claim, and 78.7 days before that claim is settled.
14.Air Dolomiti (EN)
With 31.47% of Air Dolomiti flights taking at least 40.71 minutes longer to arrive at their destination than they should, this is not the kind of airline you want to use if you’re in a rush. When it comes to customer claims, they like to take even longer: the average number of days for them to acknowledge a claim stands at 39.3, while the average number of days it takes them to solve the claim stands at a disreputable 111.3.
13. Condor (DE)
If Condor was a child, it could expect to hear some pretty harsh words off the back of its end of year school report. With 3805 flight taking off each month, they’re clearly not short of customers, but whether those same customers are happy is another question entirely. With only 66.96% of flights landing on time, and the remainder delayed by an average of 52.11 minutes, we’re guessing not. Must do better, Condor!
12. Eurowings (EW)
Plodding along (quite literally, if their flight times are anything to go by) at number 19 is Eurowings, partner airline to another poorly performing carrier, number 19’s Germanwings. Of its 6471.08 flights per month, only 68.74% manage to touch down at the time they promise- of the rest, 31.26% experience delays of 15 minutes or more, with many delayed an average of 43.4 minutes. Log a claim with the airline, meanwhile, and you’ll need to wait even longer: 84.3 days on average to receive an acknowledgment, 99.2 days for your claim to be settled, and 60 days to receive compensation if you take them to court.
11.Malaysia Airlines (MH)
Malaysia Airlines may fly to and from some of the most stunning destinations in the world, but its track record in customer service is far from a pretty sight. Of the 12534.45 flights taking off each month, only 72.35% of these can be bothered to arrive at their destination on time. Of the 27.65% of customers who get delayed, 27.65% can expect waits of 15 minutes or more, while many suffer up to 42.55 minutes of downtime. When it comes to claims, customers don’t fare quite so badly as they do with certain other carriers in getting an acknowledgment (only 24.3 days as an average), but when it comes to the time taken to actually settle a claim, MH are amongst the worst offenders, taking all of 313.3 days to resolve.
10. Ethiopian Airlines (ET
Positioned as it is at number 10 on our list, Ethiopian Airlines is quite literally caught between a rock and a hard place. In fairness, it does send a lot of planes into the air (averaging 12534.45 per month), but somewhere between taking off and landing, things are going slightly awry. Of those 12534.45 flights, only 72.35% can expect to land on time, while 27.65% can expect to be delayed by 15 minutes or more (with the average delay peaking at around 42.55 minutes).
9. Vueling (VY)
Averaging 17829.25 flights per month, Vueling is clearly a sizable airline. But as we know, size isn’t everything, at least when it comes to keeping your customers satisfied. In terms of performance, Vueling is shooting way off the mark: each month, 28.85% of flights are delayed by at least 15 minutes or more (with the average customer suffering delays of 52.35 minutes). Claims-wise, it’s not doing much better, averaging 34.1 days to acknowledge a claim, 138.5 days to settle it, and 118.7 days to pay if court-ordered.
8. Egyptair (MS)
Of the 6543.75 flights that take off each month with Egyptair, only 65.24% manage to make it to destination without experiencing a delay of 15 minutes plus. For customers traveling on the 35.76% of flights that struggle to make it on time, most will experience a delay of 35.22 minutes. It’s a grim outlook when it comes to claims as well; while it may only take the airline 20.5 days to let you know they’ve received your claim, it’ll take them a whopping 307 days to settle it.
7. TUI Airways (BY)
As one of the smaller airlines on our list (averaging just 4384.4 flights per month), you’d have thought TUI would be doing all they can to maximize customer satisfaction and keep the few customers it has coming back for more. A quick glance at its on-time performance is enough to show how far from the truth this really is. Only 67.35% of its flight manage to arrive at their destination within 15 minutes of the advertised landing time, while the average delay on those flights stands at a yawn-worthy 51.29 minutes. Claims-wise, it’s just as depressing a picture; you might be lucky enough to receive an acknowledge of your claim within just 15 days, but don’t imagine this means it’ll be settled soon. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you’ll need to wait up to 265 days for your claim to be resolved and 133 days for it to be paid if the case is taken to court.
6. Icelandair (FI)
Poor on-time performance and poor claims processing times make Icelandair one of the worst-performing airlines of the year. Expect to wait 46.5 days to hear if they’ve received your claim and 117.5 days for it to be settled (although in fairness, they’re pretty prompt at paying up when needed, and will make you wait only 43 days if ordered to stump up by way of a court order). When it comes to performance, it’s a pretty dire outlook: only 62.23% of its 2168 flights per month manage to land without a delay, while the average delay time on the 37.77% of flights that are delayed is 49.81 minutes.
5. WOW Air (WOW)
Going by their past performance, the only thing that was ever going to wow you about low-cost airline Wow Air was their audacity. What’s quite so “wow” about long delays and even longer claims processing times, we’re not quite sure. Apparently, keeping on top of delays wasn’t all WOW Air was bad at; in March 2019, the airline ceased trading after it failed to find enough investors to keep them afloat. “I can never forgive myself for not having acted sooner, but it is clear that WOW was an unbelievable airline and we were on the right path to great things,” WOW Air CEO Skúli Mogensen said in a statement at the time. “I wish I had more time because you deserve better, but I am deeply sorry that we have come to this position.”
4. Thomas Cook Airlines (MT)
At number 4 on our list is Thomas Cook Airlines, a repeat offender when it comes to the important things like timely flight arrivals and claims processing. Of the 3233.58 flights that take off monthly, an average of 35.74% doesn’t manage to make it to the landing strip on time. Customers on the ones that don’t can expect an average waiting time of 53.02 minutes. When it comes to claims, customers can expect to wait even longer: 39.3 days for an acknowledgment, 162 days for settlement and 151 days for court-ordered payment.
3. TAP Portugal (TP)
If you’re traveling with TAP Portugal, expect inconveniences along the way. While it may offer an average of 10954.83 flights per month, only 61.71% of these manage to land within 15 minutes of their promised arrival time. If you’re on one of the 38.29% of flights that fail to make it, expect an average wait of 43.63 minutes. Its timeliness when it comes to processing claims is no less dismissal: averaging at 72.2 days to reply to claim, 156.3 days to settle it, and 150.6 to pay it, you have to wonder what it’s doing with its time instead.
2. Aigle Azur (ZI)
Narrowly missing out on the title of the worst airline in the world is Aigle Azur. The French airline’s dismal record when it comes to claims processing is matched only by its equally dismal on-time performance. Of the 1164.27 flights that take off each month, 35.28% will suffer delays of 15 minutes or more, with most customers having to wait out delays of 48.33 minutes. That said, they seem to be on the up: this time last year, they were averaging only 59.12% of flight on time, while in July 2018, this dipped as low as 51.57%.
1. Tunisair (TU)
If you want to know what it takes to become the worst airline in the world, a quick glance at the stats for Tunisair should tell you all you need to know. Of its 2569.83 monthly flights, only 40.56% manage to land within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time. Of the 59.44% that don’t, most average a lengthy 69.17-minute delay. If you’re one of the many customers to experience a delayed or canceled flight, don’t bother seeking compensation (not unless you’re prepared to wait, in any case). Once it receives your claim, Tunisair will make you wait a frankly outrageous 408 days until it replies, 408 days to settle and another 254 days to pay up if required by the court.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson