A couple of years after the pandemic, the travel industry is thriving once more, with people all over the world aching to jet off and explore somewhere new.
Alongside choosing which destination to visit, and picking a hotel, finding a reliable airline is a priority for lots of travellers; especially with constant news stories of airlines and airports being frequently overwhelmed, leading to delays and cancellations.
With that in mind, the travel insurance experts at Compare the Market wanted to see which airlines were the most (and the least!) reliable globally, so we looked at a variety of factors including the number of complaints amongst airlines that fly into both the US and UK (the reason being, that both these countries are major travel hubs between the two continents), and how many were remedied, alongside the cause of those complaints – from flight cancellations to lost luggage and more.
So, read on to discover which airlines you might want to book your flight with this year!
Based on US results, we can reveal that there are five airlines that came joint top, making them the most reliable.
First up is Aerolineas Argentina: with its headquarters in Buenos Aires, it’s Argentina’s national carrier, and over the last 12 months, it received just one complaint regarding rude customer service, and four cases of issues obtaining refunds for the likes of lost tickets and fare adjustments. So, if you fancy discovering South America this year, then there’s no better airline to use.
With just one complaint of incorrect information or fare increases, and four cases of not receiving a proper refund, Air New Zealand also makes it on top; alongside Canada’s Air Transat (aka Air Canada’s main rival), Azerbaijan Airlines, as well as Gol Airlines – the low-cost carrier for Brazil.
One thing’s clear here: US airlines haven’t scored well, with the bottom seven all hailing from the USA.
American Airlines has been crowned the least reliable, with a huge 2,183 flight problems recorded, 157 cases of overselling tickets, and 1,476 issues with refunds.
In fact, American Airlines was rated worst for everything we ranked, with the exception of lost and delayed baggage (United came top for that), and discrimination, with Lufthansa receiving 41 civil rights complaints.
United Airlines doesn’t fare much better, with 763 cases of lost, delayed, or damaged baggage over the last 12 months, 470 cases of misinformation on fares, and 22 cases of discrimination.
Spirit, JetBlue and Frontier – all low-cost airlines operating in the US – came out as some of the most unreliable airlines in the world, too.
However, it’s important to remember that given the fact that this is US data, there will likely be some skewing towards US airlines, with more travellers catching flights with them.
So, if we look at non-US airlines, we can see that the most unreliable is Germany’s Lufthansa, with 566 reports of issues with baggage, and 466 problems with getting refunds. Air India and Air Canada didn’t fare so well either, with Air India’s main problem being difficulties obtaining refunds, and Air Canada being lost and delayed baggage.
This dataset ranks 102 different airlines, based on complaints categories over the past 12 available months (September 2021 – August 2022). To do this, the number of complaints in each category has been totalled to give a total number of complaints for the past 12 months. The airlines were then ranked with the least number of total complaints being ranked 1. The complaint categories are as follows:
Data gathered is correct as of 07/12/2022. The most recent data possible was used in compiling this dataset. Figures for certain airlines falling under the same company were aggregated.
This dataset ranks 175 different airlines, based on complaints and compensation awarded. To do this, 5 different factors were gathered, using all the available data from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (Q4 2017 to Q2 2022). Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each factor with a score between 0 and 1. The normalised values were then summed, to give each airline a total score out of 5. The airlines were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores, with the worst airline for complaints being ranked 1st.
The factors used are as follows:
The factors were indexed as follows:
Where data was not available, it was given a score of 0. Data gathered is correct as of 07/12/2022. The most recent data possible was used in compiling this dataset. All price data provided has been given in AUD, USD, and GBP. This data was collected from Google’s currency converter, with the following conversion rates being used: 1 GBP = 1.82 AUD, 1 GBP = 1.22