Photo: By rapidtravelchai on Flickr
There’s only one airline in the world that has been deemed horrible enough to earn a dismal 1-star rating from leading airline reviewer SkyTrax.It’s North Korea’s state-owned airline: Air Koryo.
It boasts a fleet of less than two dozen Russian-made planes and offers flights to China, Russia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and more, according to the Centre of Aviation. The planes are based in the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang.
But in an industry already suffering from widespread negative perception, what makes Air Koryo stand out as the very worst? Customer service, food, safety or a little bit of everything?
Australian biomedical engineer Mark Fahey recently took a flight to Pyongyang and put up some shots of his trip on Flickr. We compiled his pictures along with a few others who documented their flights to show you what it’s like on Air Koryo.
Air Koryo is NOT quality approved, and has 1-star general ratings almost across the board from Skytrax
This is an Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-62 P-885, a version of the Il-62 that was originally designed in the 1960's. II-62's have had 10 accidents since 1989, though only two were fatal
The attendants pass out a propaganda paper before getting off the ground. Guess who's on the front page?
They play revolutionary marching music to go with your Pyongyang Times before both take-off and landing, reports Jason Birbeck on Skytrax
It gets so bad that they have to wipe the cabin down so that droplets don't bother the passengers -- a process that Joseph Ferris caught on camera on his flight
Skytrax rates the food at 1-star for economy and 2-star for business class. Most reviewers say that it's edible, but nothing special
Air Koryo actually hasn't had an incident since 2006 when a plane ran off a runway, and hasn't had any fatalities since 1983
Air Koryo's webpage is part of the government's site, and there's not much you can do on it -- you have to call or email a Hotmail address
There are a bunch of customer reviews on SkyTrax, and while many were dissatisfied with their trips, a few raved about their experience flying Air Koryo. Here's an example from each side:
'Interesting to say the least. Outbound was oldest plane I have ever seen in my life (Il-62), and literally falling apart at the seams. Propaganda handed out, announcements regarding how this flight was made possible by the dear leader, etc. Return was same aircraft type, but much better shape. However, upon landing in Beijing, was quickly sweating due to no air conditioning. Not like you have much of a choice when flying to Pyongyang - snag Air China if you want a safe flight, but Air Koryo if you want the experience.' -- V. Forni (2009)
And here's the most positive review:
'I flew Air Koryo as part of an organised tour in and out of DPRK, planes were new TU204s. The planes were clean and plenty of overhead luggage space, crew was pleasant and efficient, food OK for a short flight. The overall experience was better than some airlines with 2 and 3 star ratings.' -- Peter Sexton (2011)
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