‘It Was Infested With Flies’: 23 Horror Stories From The Worst Airlines In The World

‘It Was Infested With Flies’: 23 Horror Stories From The Worst Airlines In The World

Last week, Skytrax named and shamed the world’s worst airlines via its annual Star Ratings report. Airlines that received two stars or less were found to be below average in multiple categories and generally sucky across the board. But how bad are they really? We trawled Skytrax’s customer review page to find out what actual passengers have been saying. Some of the stories we found can only be described as living nightmares…

Bad stewardess picture from Shutterstock

Skytrax’s world airline star ratings report is great news for air services that come out on top — a coveted five-star rating is free advertising of the most valuable kind. But for the bottom feeders, it’s a public relations nightmare.

Of the 184 airlines rated in Skytrax’s 2015 report, only 23 received a star rating of 2 or lower. This signifies “poorer or inconsistent standards” for both cabin service and the home-base airport environment. They also tend to be cheaper, which explains why these airlines are still in business.

So the question Lifehacker readers need to ask themselves is: do cheap airfares make the shortcomings bearable? Or should you fork out for a higher-rated offering, even if the flight times aren’t as convenient? Below are some hand-picked customer reviews of Skytrax’s 23 lowest-rated airlines. It makes for some sobering reading.

Now, bear in mind that not all customer experiences will be as bad as the testimonies below. And all airlines can have a bad day. With that said, the likelihood of encountering fly-infested food, shoddy engines and excrement-filled toilets are lower when you pay more. Just sayin’.

Air Italy, Italy (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Air Koryo, North Korea (Skytrax rating: one star)

“Travelled on an ancient Ilyushin aircraft and whilst happy to reach my destination this is not an airline I would use again (no choice this time on my schedule to Pyongyang). This plane was not maintained well from the surface appearance in the cabin and many seat mechanisms also were broken. Food quality was well below all Asian airlines I have ever flown and think it was the cheapest meal ever sampled on a plane.”

Bahamasair, Bahamas (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Biman Bangladesh, Bangladesh (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Bulgaria Air, Bulgaria (Skytrax rating: two stars)

China United Airlines, China (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Cubana Airlines, Cuba (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Iran Air, Iran (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Lion Air, Indonesia (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Mahan Air, Iran (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Nepal Airlines, Nepal (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Onur Air, Turkey (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Pegasus Airlines, Turkey (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Rossiya Airlines, Russia (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Ryanair, Ireland (Skytrax rating: two stars)

“Ryanair has a policy of printing your boarding pass prior to your flight which obviously includes web check-in. If you fail to do so, the airline charges an absurd amount of 45eur per person. While it does mention to web check-in on your ticket, first time goers are bound to face problems. The staff gave us a deaf ear on us when we kept saying our web check-in kept failing a night prior inspite of repeated attempts.”

SmartWings, Czech Republic (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Spirit Airlines, USA (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Sudan Airways, Sudan (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Syrianair, Syria (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Tajik Air, Tajikistan (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Turkmenistan Airlines, Turkmenistan (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Ukraine Int’l Airlines, Ukraine (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Yemenia, Yemen (Skytrax rating: two stars)

Have you ever flown with any of the above airlines? How did you experience compare? Let us know in the comments!


  • I don’t want to come off as xenophobic or anything, but with some of these airlines, it seems to be the country, more than the carrier. Flying in or out from North Korea? What do you expect? I’d be happy just to arrive alive, given that country’s track record for not caring about anything that isn’t the Dear Leader.

    But the rest, pretty bad experiences. I’m sure they could have been worse though.

  • No alcohol on an Iranian flight!? Terrible, I can’t believe it – I won’t!

    Whilst some of these come across as actual horror stories (definitely won’t be flying Tajik Air), a lot of them just appear to be privileged travelers complaining about low budget flights not having the amenities of high budget flights, or general culturally insensitivity.

    The morals of the article:
    Budget flights – you get what you pay for.
    Different strokes for different folks/cultures.

    • My dad few Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airline) and I recall him saying there was no alcohol on board. I suppose for them it was a cultural thing. So yeah some of these passengers are whinging for the sake of whinging.

      But if you’re paying a couple of grand for a flight… that’s another story altogether.

      • Just because you’re paying a ‘couple of grand’ doesn’t mean you should expect the airline to break the law. If Alcohol is prohibited, then that is that. Sorry.

        • sorry I didn’t mean break the law. If the national culture doesn’t allow it, then thats fine. If the service is shit because the Airline is just being shit, but still charging $2K – there’s a problem

      • There’s certain international legs that even Australian airlines designate as “dry flights” due to local laws / customs. From recollection flights from/to Malaysia are often dry (just like Iran etc)

        I dunno… given how much of my news feed has been filled up in the last few days with people DYING trying to get to other countries on leaky boats etc to save their (and their families) lives… this article just makes me disgusted with how entitled most of us all are nowadays…

        I think Louie CK said it about air travel in regards to whiney people…. “Oh my god, really? What happened then, did you fly through the air like a bird, incredibly? Did you soar into the clouds, impossibly? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight and then land softly on giant tires that you couldn’t even conceive how they f**king put air in them?…You’re sitting in a chair in the sky. You’re like a Greek myth right now.”

  • I’ll repost my comment here from the earlier thread on worst airlines but yeah, a lot of this sounds like whining. Biman is terrible for many reasons and delays are barely one of them.


    I’ve flown Biman. Overall it’s exactly what you’d expect flights that cheap to be. The problem however comes from the other passengers. Uneducated bangladeshi labourers that fly to Malaysia/middle east for work. The issue stems from them not knowing how to use the toilets. Imagine a flight whose economy class is 99.99% male, sharing 2 bathrooms and almost none of them understand how to flush the airplane toilet.

    I went before the meal service, knew what was happening and warned my wife immediately to use the toilet before there’s no.2’s to contend with. She… didn’t need to go then.

    Toilet 1: fecal matter up to the seat, someone had stuck a plastic bottle in the mound of shit because why the fuck not?
    Toilet 2: shit covered wall. We assume someone with diarrhea had tried to use it like a squat toilet.

    So yes. We’re not flying biman ever again.

  • I don’t know how many stars Air Asia has got, the Air Asia X plane seems to be fine, but when you get to KL you change to a local smaller aircraft to get to wherever in Asia your destination is.
    Our plane was making a weird rattling noise in one of the engines as we got on board and was very apparent during the flight. Even though it was only 35 mins in the air I was glad to get off. Utterly terrifying! It was in monsoon season too, but our pilot was terrific in avoiding all the clouds. Still, someone get those damn rattlesnakes out of the engine!

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