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The Five Worst Airlines

Ranking the airlines and generating lists of the top five or ten or fifty is a popular pastime. While such best-of lists have little in the way of practical application, they’re amusing to consider, and if nothing else are an indicator of what travelers value in the flight experience.

Rarer, but no less entertaining, are lists of the very worst airlines.

Here’s one from the website lifehacker, which regularly polls its readers on matters of general interest. The latest question put up for a vote: What’s the worst airline?

Among the airlines mentioned were Aeroflot, Air India, Air Koryo (North Korea’s flag carrier), Alitalia, and Malaysian. All worthy contenders, certainly.

The short list of nominees, however—those earning the most negative votes—was as follows:

  • Spirit (“hiking baggage fees for the holiday travel season, on top of their already impressive set of fees, like fees for gate-checked bags you intended to carry on on top of their already impressive fees for carry-on bags”)
  • Frontier (“scowling faces and sarcastic replies, flight attendants straight up lying to passengers, and the fact that they have an email-only customer service center”)
  • Ryanair (“packed planes and exorbitant fees that drive up your travel costs”)
  • Delta (“cramped seats, terrible customer service over the phone or at the airport, or late everything”)
  • United (“shipping a person to one place and his pet half a world away, delays for mechanical issues, lost luggage, screwed up ‘confirmed’ reservations, and more”)

Honorable (dishonorable?) mention goes to MAT Macedonia Airlines. According to a poster’s flight review, “The stewardesses wore house dresses, served expired food (the date was on the package), and when the plane landed successfully everybody broke into spontaneous applause.”

Reader Reality Check

Your least favorite airline (and an illustrative anecdote)?

This article originally appeared on

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