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The 20 Worst Airlines In The World

Turkmenistan airlines worst

Air travel can be a miserable experience these days — especially when you are flying economy class.

Since nothing is worse than being stuck in a small uncomfortable seat with limited leg room, terrible food, and rude service, we think the in-flight experience is the most important factor in enjoying your flight.

We ranked the 20 worst airlines for flying economy in the world, based on the most unpleasant in-flight experiences.

To compile this list, we looked at dozens of major international airlines that fly long-haul routes and have economy class seats. We looked at ratings (scored on a scale of one to five) from leading airline reviewer Skytrax for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, and service efficiency.

We included passenger reviews for each airline (scored out of 10) also from Skytrax.

We adjusted each measure to be out of 100, and averaged them to produce a final score that reflects the overall in-flight experience. Ratings are out of 100 points.

20. Sky Express

Rated 50 out of 100 for economy class.

Air Algerie flies a fleet of 45 Airbus and Boeing planes, with orders placed for 16 more.

In 2012, it started leasing Boeing 747 jumbo jets to cope with extra demand during the Hajj and Umrah Muslim pilgrimages.

Its passenger review score of 60 was quite good, but poor Skytrax ratings for in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness, and staff response to passenger requests make it the 20th worst airline in the world for flying economy.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

18. Ryanair (tie)

Rated 49.2 out of 100 for economy class.

This 'ultra-low-cost' airline is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, and has a fleet of over 300 aircraft.

Although the no-frills carrier has non-reclining seats and lacks seat-back pockets, it carries a surprising number of business travellers, and it may have figured out how to save Greece's tourism industry.

Now, Ryanair has plans to reduce the number of toilets on each plane from three to one, with the benefit of fitting six more paying passengers on each flight.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

18. Merpati Nusantara Airlines (tie)

Rated 49.2 out of 100 for economy class.

Merpati Nusantara Airlines is an Indonesian airline based out of Jakarta.

It operates domestic and international flights, but it -- along with 286 other airlines -- is deemed 'unsafe' by the EU, and is banned from flying in European airspace.

Skytrax gave the carrier just one star out of five for in-flight entertainment and interaction with passengers. The food's not terrible, though -- it got three and a half stars.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

17. Biman Bangladesh Airlines

Rated 49 out of 100 for economy class.

The national airline of Bangladesh announced in April it has hired its first foreign CEO, Kevin Steele, formerly of British Airways.

Biman Bangladesh is currently permitted to fly into the EU, and operates flights to 20 different destinations.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

16. Cubana Airlines

Rated 47.7 out of 100 for economy class.

Cubana is banned from flying to the US by the American commercial embargo against Cuba, but its international destinations include Europe, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The Cuban government owns the airline, and has since 1959. It recently upgraded a number of planes in its fleet with Russian-made aircrafts.

Nonetheless, it received two-star ratings from Skytrax for cabin cleanliness, staff presence, and staff responses to requests.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

15. Nepal Airlines

Rated 46.7 out of 100 for economy class.

The former chairman of Nepal Airlines was convicted of corruption charges in 2011.

The airline also once sacrificed goats to appease a Hindu god after a technical problem.

Weak points include meals and staff responses to passenger requests.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

14. Royal Air Maroc

Rated 46.5 out of 100 for economy class.

Royal Air Maroc is the largest airline in Morocco and operates an all-Boeing fleet.

It has an open sky agreement with the EU, which brings in the majority of its international visitors and is a main driving force for Morocco's tourism industry.

The airline received just one star for staff presence during flight.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

12. TAAG Angola Airlines (tie)

Rated 45.8 out of 100 for economy class.

TAAG Angola Airlines had previously been completely blocked from EU airspace, but the ban has been partially lifted.

During its ban, it wet-leased aircraft (when the aircraft comes with crew and insurance) from South African Airlines to continue its long-haul flights.

TAAG recently announced it would increase the number of flights to Cuba and Zimbabwe.

Skytrax users gave the airline just 3.5 points out of 10.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

12. Pegasus Airlines (tie)

Rated 45.8 out of 100 for economy class.

Pegasus Airlines is a low-cost airline and is the second largest airline in Turkey.

None of its ratings are above three stars, but that could change: The carrier is launching new routes to Doha and Athens, and just had a successful IPO in Turkey.

It operates Boeing aircraft, and has orders placed for dozens of Airbuses.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

11. Spirit

Rated 45 out of 100 for economy class.

Spirit is one of only two two-star airlines operating in the Americas, the other being Cubana Airlines.

The airline is known for its outrageous fees and its strict no-refund policy, which could backfire eventually.

Spirit also got itself on Consumer Reports's 2012 'naughty' list, and annoyed liberals on election day with a 'Romney Wins!' email.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

10. Syrian Air

Rated 44.8 out of 100 for economy class.

Syrian Air is operating far fewer flights than it has in the past, due to EU sanctions put into place since the start of its civil war.

In 2012, one of its planes collided in midair with a military helicopter, over Damascus. The plane, carrying 200 people, landed safely, but the helicopter was destroyed. It's unclear is anyone onboard was injured or killed, according to the New York Times.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

9. Tajik Air

Rated 43.3 out of 100 for economy class.

Established in 1923, Tajik Air is the national airline of Tajikistan.

Its last fatal crash occurred in 1997, killing all 79 passengers and six of the seven crew members. Two crashes in 1993 killed more than 120 people, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

Skytrax gives Tajik Air two star rankings for comfort and staff interaction with passengers.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

8. Iceland Express

Rated 42.8 out of 100 for economy class.

Iceland Express is a low-cost carrier that currently does not offer any flights to or from the U.S.

Its tiny fleet is composed of just two Airbus A320s, and the airline was acquired by carrier WOW Air in October 2012.

The airline got two stars from Skytrax for meal service, staff cabin presence, and assistance during boarding.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

7. Rossiya Airlines

Rated 42.7 out of 100 for economy class.

St. Petersburg-based Rossiya Airlines just completed a fleet renewal program, but that may not be enough to bump it off of this list.

Most of its planes are made by Airbus, but it does have Boeings and Russian-made aircraft as well.

In 2010, it merged with Aeroflot, which then reported a 66% drop in profitability in 2012.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

6. Bulgaria Air

Rated 41.8 out of 100 for economy class.

Founded in 2002, Bulgaria Air is based out of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, and has a fleet of 18 planes.

It recently added low-cost flights to Amsterdam that will make it easier to connect to the U.S., Canada, and the rest of Europe.

It got two stars from Skytrax for amenities (like blankets and pillows), service efficiency, and staff language skills.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

5. Air Koryo

Rated 39.2 out of 100 for economy class.

Flights on North Korea's state-owned airline -- the world's only one-star carrier -- include 'revolutionary marching music,' food that's described as 'edible,' and a concerning amount of water vapor in the cabin, according to past customers.

Of Air Koryo's entire fleet, only two of its new planes are permitted in European Union airspace.

The airline is currently trying to upgrade its ageing aircraft, and will likely purchase new planes from Russia because of sanctions by the U.S. and EU.

Here is what it is like to fly on Air Koryo.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

4. Uzbekistan Airways

Rated 37.5 out of 100 for economy class.

Since its first flight in 1992, Uzbekistan Airways has had three fatal accidents, killing a total of 54 people.

It received one-star ratings for in-flight entertainment, amenities, and staff response to passenger requests, so it's no surprise it's the fourth worst airline on this list.

Most of its international flights depart from Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, but the airline operates international flights from other regional airports as well.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

3. Ukraine International Airlines

Rated 36.3 out of 100 for economy class.

The airline that once flew Pope John Paul II around Ukraine has a relatively high passenger reviews score of 58, but it did poorly in the other categories, bringing its overall ranking to the third worst airline.

It is based in Kiev and operates flights to over 60 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

2. Sudan Airways

Rated 33.3 out of 100 for economy class.

Sudan Airways is the second-worst airline in the world for economy travellers.

While it did receive two stars for seat comfort, it did not score above two stars in any other category we considered.

The airline is currently banned by the European Union and serves only destinations within Sudan, Africa, and the Middle East.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

1. Turkmenistan Airlines

Rated 30.8 out of 100 for economy class.

Turkmenistan Airlines is the worst airline to fly economy.

The carrier is based out of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, and it has a fleet of Boeing aeroplanes for its passenger flights.

Turkmenistan is the first former Soviet state to use Boeing aircraft, and all of the airline's international flights are flown by Western-trained pilots.

Nonetheless, terrible rankings on Skytrax for in-flight entertainment, seat comfort, service efficiency, staff response to passenger requests, and staff language skills make it the worst airline you can find.

In-flight experience score is an average of ratings for seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and passenger reviews, provided by Skytrax.

You've seen the worst.

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