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The best – and worst – airlines to travel with

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Which airlines should you travel with – and which should you avoid? We sift through the data so you don’t have to

Which airlines should you travel with – and which should you avoid? We sift through the data so you don’t have to

James Tozer | April/May 2016

Asia’s airlines are mostly excellent; Europe’s are competent; America’s are awful. It is a pattern that many seasoned globetrotters have observed, but which 1843 has confirmed by trawling through data on 18 major international carriers, visualised in the chart below. 

We used flight-volume data from FlightStats.com and customer-satisfaction data from Skytrax, an airline consultancy which asks users to mark carriers out of five for the quality of their food, service, comfort, in-flight entertainment and value for money. American and United each scored 2.17 – barely half as much as leaders ANA and Singapore Airlines, both rated at 4.17. 

For prices, we took the world’s 30 busiest airports in the last quarter of 2015 (as measured by FlightStats.com), and analysed direct flights between them on week-long return trips from a sample at the start of August 2016. Most of the 870 possible routes we looked at had a cheapest option, but across the whole sample few companies were able to charge much more or less than their rivals – as you would expect in a competitive market. 

With so little difference in prices between airlines, the savvy traveller might as well opt for the comfiest seats, not the cheapest ones – and plump for Asian luxury over shoddy American service.

5 Readers' comments

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Kutuzof - December 22nd 2016

As a business traveler who's travelling around 30-40 flights around the world from Europe, i can assure anyone that Turkish airlines is 20% to 40% cheaper than Lufthansa for almost any location. You can also check it for yourselves easily. The segmentation work is done nicely but from a cost perspective it does not reflect anything close to the reality.

lale868 - May 27th 2016

Fair point Geleisen, but if you live in Turkey, you'll find that THY is quite expensive. We pay far more than one would pay for the same flights abroad. If I could book my flights in the UK, I would pay considerably less. Mad but true.

tajuddin - May 9th 2016

Wonder, where are Malaysian Airlines has been left behind?

81noes - April 13th 2016

I agree with previous comment. Turkish airlines comes often among cheaper options. Similarly quality is higher than mainland European companies

geleisen - March 29th 2016

I definitely have to question the methods used to find price. To almost anybody who travels long haul on business, it is laughable to see Turkish as the most expensive. For many routes, Turkish has the least expensive business class, and frequently is cheapest or near cheapest in economy as well.