We Rated 150 Carriers. Here Are the World's Best and Worst Airlines.

We Rated 150 Carriers. Here Are the World's Best and Worst Airlines.

At ClaimCompass, we like to keep track of airlines' on-time performance. This is one of the main criteria for our airline ratings, which establishes a ranking of the best... but also the worst airlines in the world.

Although very long delays are still the exception rather than the rule, a signification portion of flights worldwide don't arrive as scheduled.

Our research revealed that in 2018

  • 24.30% of all flights were delayed by 15 minutes or more
  • the average time of delay per flight reached 47 minutes
  • on average, airlines took over 4m to process a claim for compensation

2018 was another very exciting year for us, as we reached over 100,000 passengers and helped them file a claim for compensation. Based on all that data, we decided to produce something more interesting this time.

We compared the flight and claim processing performance of 135 of the world's largest airlines for 2018 in order to create one of the most comprehensive, detailed and transparent airline ratings in the world.

Check out the ClaimCompass Airline Ratings

Here's a glimpse at how the world's top airlines performed in 2018:

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Airline Ranking 2018

You can check the airline ratings for yourself - but we did the hard work for you and ranked them right below.

You will find here the best and worst international airlines:

Best Airlines in the world in 2018

1 - South African Airways (SA): 7.4/10
2 - SAS Scandinavian (SK): 7.3/10
3 - KLM (KL): 7.0/10
4 - Austrian Airlines (OS): 6.9/10
5 - Luxair (LG): 6.8/10
5 - Volotea (VOE): 6.8/10
7 - Ryanair (FR): 6.7/10
8 - WestJet (WS): 6.5/10
9 - American Airlines (AA): 6.4/10
9 - Etihad Airways (EY): 6.4/10
11 - Transavia Holland (HV): 6.3/10
12 - Easy Jet (EZY): 6.2/10
13 - Finnair<et/a> (AY): 6.1/10
13 -
Flybe (BE): 6.1/10
15 - Air France (AF): 6.0/10
15 - Qatar Airways (QR): 6.0/10
17 - Virgin Australia (VA): 5.9/10
17 - British Airways (BA): 5.9/10
19 - Wizz Air (W6): 5.8/10
19 - Delta Air Lines (DL): 5.8/10

Keep in mind that the airlines that were missing either the flight performance or the claim processing score are not included in this ranking.

To see exactly how much each airline scored for their flight and claim processing performance, click on the name of the airline. You can already get an idea with the graph below:

Worst Airlines in the world in 2018

71 - Tunisair (TU): 0.1/10
70 - Aigle Azur (ZI): 1.1/10
69 - TAP Portugal (TP): 1.3/10
67 - Thomas Cook Airlines (MT): 1.4/10
67 - WOW Air (WOW): 1.4/10
66 - Icelandair (FI): 2.0/10
65 - TUI Airways (BY): 2.3/10
63 - Egyptair (MS): 2.6/10
63 - Vueling (VY): 2.6/10
61 - Ethiopian Airlines (ET): 2.8/10
61 - Malaysia Airlnes (MH): 2.8/10
60 - Eurowings (EW): 2.9/10
59 - Condor (DE): 3.0/10
58 - Air Dolomiti (EN): 3.1/10
57 - Air Malta (KM): 3.2/10
56 - Air Serbia (ASL): 3.5/10
55 - Air India (AI): 3.6/10
54 - Air Mauritius (MK): 3.7 /10
53 - Germanwings (4U): 3.9/10
52 - Jet Airways (9W): 4.0/10
51 - Ukraine International Airlines (PS): 4.3/10
48 - Air Canada (AC): 4.5/10
48 - Emirates (EK): 4.5/10
48 - CityJet (WX): 4.5/10

Here again, keep in mind that only the airlines for which both flight performance and claim processing data were available are ranked.

These are the worst performers of our international airline ratings. Travellers flying on one of those worst rated airlines better have low expectations.

But there are other airlines that travellers should beware. Among the least punctual ones are also Pakistan International Airlines (0.6/10), Philippine Airlines (1.2/10), China Eastern Airlines (1.8/10), Air China (1.9/10) and Frontier Airlines (2.2/10).
The airlines were not included in the ranking, as no claim processing data was available.

On that note, here are other airlines that are terrible at processing their passengers' compensation claims: Nouvelair (0.2/10), Bulgaria Air (0.4/10), Royal Brunei Airlines (0.4/10), Air Austral (0.7/10), Aeroflot (2.2/10) and Tarom (2.2/10).

Best US Airlines in 2018

  1. American Airlines (AA): 6.4/10
  2. Delta Air Lines (DL): 5.8/10
  3. United Airlines (UA): 5.1/10
  4. SkyWest Airlines (OO): 4.9/10

Keep in mind that the airlines that were missing either the flight performance or the claim processing score are not included in this ranking of the best and worst airlines in the world.

The graph below illustrates how North American airlines compared in 2018:

Best Airlines in Europe in 2018*

  1. SAS Scandinavian (SK): 7.3/10
  2. KLM (KL): 7.0/10
  3. Austrian Airlines (OS): 6.9/10
  4. Ryanair (FR): 6.7/10
  5. Easy Jet (EZY): 6.2/10
  6. Finnair (AY): 6.1/10
  7. Flybe (BE): 6.1/10
  8. Air France (AF): 6.0/10
  9. British Airways (BA): 5.9/10
  10. Turkish Airlines (TK): 5.5/10
  11. LOT Polish Airlines (LO): 5.5/10
  12. Lufthansa (LH): 5.5/10
  13. Swiss International Airlines (LX): 5.2/10

*Airlines which operated at least 4,000 flights per month on average in 2018

Once again, keep in mind that the airlines that were missing either the flight performance or the claim processing score are not included in this ranking.

Here's a comparison of how some of the main European airlines compared in 2018.

Best Airlines in Asia-Oceania in 2018

  1. ANA All Nippon Airways (NH): 9.0/10
  2. Japan Airlines JAL (JL): 9.0/10
  3. Bangkok Airways (PG): 8.5/10
  4. SriLankan Airlines (UL): 6.8/10
  5. Air New Zealand (NZ): 6.7/10
  6. Virgin Australia (VA): 5.9/10
  7. Vietnam Airlines (VN): 5.6/10
  8. Qantas (QF): 5.5/10
  9. Korean Air (KE): 5.3/10
  10. Thai Airways International (TG): 5.1/10
  11. Hong Kong Airlines (HX): 4.9/10
  12. Singapore Airlines (SQ): 4.7/10
  13. Jetstar Airways (JQ): 4.5/10
  14. Jet Airways (9W): 4.0/10
  15. AirAsia (AK): 3.8/10
  16. Air India (AI): 3.6/10
  17. Cathay Pacific (CX): 3.2/10
  18. China Airlines (CI): 3.1/10
  19. Asiana Airlines (OZ): 2.9/10
  20. Malaysia Airlnes (MH): 2.8/10

Best Airlines in the Middle-East and Africa in 2018

  1. South African Airways (SA): 7.4/10
  2. Etihad Airways (EY): 6.4/10
  3. Qatar Airways (QR): 6.0/10
  4. Kenya Airways (KQ): 5.6/10
  5. Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV): 5.1/10
  6. Emirates (EK): 4.5/10
  7. Royal Jordanian (RJ): 4.3/10
  8. Air Mauritius (MK): 3.7/10
  9. Ethiopian Airlines (ET): 2.8/10
  10. El Al (LY): 2.7/10

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Methodology: What is the ClaimCompass Airline Rating based on?

Because our expertise lies in processing compensation claims and analyzing commercial airline flight performance, we decided to make it the focus of our study.

To determine an airline's rating, we've grouped various metrics into two major groups:

  • flight performance
  • claim processing performance

Each score is rated out of 10. The average of these two scores make up an airline's global rating.

For example, American Airlines flight performance earns them a score of 5.8 out of 10, while their claim processing score stands at 7.0 out of 10. The global rating of American Airlines is therefore 6.4 out of 10 (the average of 5.8 and 7).  

American Airlines Rating 2018

Important note:

Sometimes the available data isn't sufficient to make a statistically significant observation. There are cases where one of the two groups, Flight performance or Claim processing isn't complete, so we base our rating only on the one metric that we're confident in.

How did we decide on each rating?

We used the performance of the airlines that showed the poorest results to determine the lowest scores of the ratings. The same way, the airlines that performed best set the highest scores.

Based on this, we used a system of deciles to determine the rating of each individual airline. So what does that mean?

If an airline is the top 10% performers, its score will be between 9 and 10. An airline between the top 20% and top 10% will have a score between 8 and 9, and so on...

Why not make it simpler for the on-time performance (OTP) score? Why an OTP of 40% isn't equal to an OTP rating of 4.0/10?

Because we don't believe that it would've been representative of an airline's true performance. Don't forget that an OTP means that 6 out of 10 flights are delayed. To put this in other words, only 4 flights out of 10 arrive on time.

As a result, airlines showing the poorest results were used to determine the lowest scores of the ratings, while those with the best performance set the highest scores.

Flight Performance Score

The ClaimCompass Flight Performance Score is determined by 2 criteria based on data from third-party provider Flightstats

  • On-time performance
  • Average delay
British Airways' flight performance 2018

Most airline ratings and rankings out there only use an airline's on-time performance to determine its flight performance score.

At ClaimCompass, we are fully aware of the importance of the length of a flight delay. After all, passengers on a flight delayed by 3 hours or more might get up to 600€ in flight delay compensation according to the EU Regulation 261/2004. Those on a shorter delay won't have the opportunity to claim such compensation.

That's why we chose to take the average delay of an airline's flights to determine the flight performance score.

However, it is true that the length of the delay doesn't matter quite as much as whether a flight is delayed at all or not. To reflect this, "on-time performance" was given a weight of 3 while "average delay" was only given a weight of 1.

The flight performance score is therefore the weighted average of the on-time performance (coefficient 3) and of the average delay (coefficient 1).

Claim Processing Score

The ClaimCompass Claim Processing Score is based on 3 criteria:

  • Initial Response Time: average number of days for the airline to reply once the claim is submitted
  • Claim Processing Time: average number of days to solve the claim
  • Payout Time After Court Intervention: average number of days to pay the compensation after the case was sent to court

It is the weighted average of the First Response Delay (coefficient 2), the Claim Processing Time (coefficient 3), and the Payout Time After Court Intervention (coefficient 0.5). Airlines that are especially cooperative were granted a bonus of 0.2 points, while those that are particularly uncooperative were penalized by 0.2 points.

Lufthansa Claim Processing Score 2018

Initial Response Time

The first criteria measures the amount of time for an airline to acknowledge a claim and start processing it.

Several airlines reply within a week - these were used as benchmark and helped determine the highest scores.

On the other hand, some carriers are terribly slow, don't issue a statement or even acknowledge the claim.

Claim Processing Time

The second criteria measures how long it takes for an airline to process a claim.

A flight compensation claim has a binary outcome:

  • the carrier is at fault and must honor the claim and pay compensation
  • the carrier is capable of proving that there have been extraordinary circumstances and no compensation is due

In the first case, the processing time is the average amount of time it takes for an airline to pay the compensation after receiving the claim.

In the case of an invalid claim, the processing time is the average amount of time it takes for the airline to prove that a case is invalid (this happens, for instance, when the flight was disrupted because of extraordinary circumstances, such as hidden manufacturing defects which have impacted the on-time performance).

On average, in 2018 the fastest airlines processed a claim from start to finish in about 3 weeks, while the slowest took over a year.

An interesting trend

Towards the end of 2018 we noticed that several airlines were dealing with flight compensations faster than they did at the beginning of the year. We'll keep an eye on this trend and hope it continues in 2019.

Payout Time After Court Intervention

The third criteria measures how fast an airline pays the owed compensation when the claim was ruled eligible by a court or a National Enforcement Body.

Indeed, some of the most complicated cases require the intervention of an official legal body. This happens when 1) an airline refuses to acknowledge the validity of a claim, or 2) when an airline refuses to cooperate altogether.

Yet, even when the official body has ruled that the airline must pay, not all of them comply immediately. For these, we added a penalty to their rating.

To be completely fair, certain airlines are systematically compliant: they are not looking for a way to cheat or avoid paying compensation when it is due. With these airlines, no intervention of the court is necessary. Our rating rewards this honesty with a small bonus.

What to expect in 2019?

If the trend of 2018 is any indication, air passengers should expect the amount of flight delays to rise.

The reason?

An ever-increasing amount of passenger traffic, lagging infrastructure, failed optimization efforts, margin compression, to name a few.

On the bright side however, we are confident that airlines will get more efficient at processing passenger claims. Even the worst rated airlines.

We already witnessed major improvements in the behaviour of several airlines in this regard - although many still lag behind. Of course, others are headed the wrong way and make it ever harder to claim compensation for flight delays in 2019.

Check out the ClaimCompass Airline Ratings

Have you had a delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight? You might be entitled to up to 600€ in compensation.