Your airline experience is often the first thing you will really have no personal control over on either a business trip or a holiday. Whether you enjoy your holiday and whether you are at your peak productivity on a business trip will likely either be enhanced or degraded depending on whether your experience in the air is affirmative or horrendous. Even a neutral experience is a positive these days.

Ratings below come from a list of the top 92 world airlines of 2016 according to recognized industry experts at Airlinequality dot com. Crowding and special treatment of first class passengers seems to be a factor in overall satisfaction.

Not surprisingly, airlines which treat even economy travelers with dignity are highly rated for customer satisfaction.

Airlines - how do US Carriers rate?

Virgin America (recently merged with the former top U.S. airline, Alaska Air) is the highest ranking or "best" US airline coming in at 26th place (out of a ranking of the top 92), just above British Airways and a few places above Virgin Atlantic. But is Virgin really a US airline? Certainly it is based in the US but it is also Virgin which is Branson and we all know that anything Sir Richard does is probably well thought out..

Unfortunately Virgin America is no more. After the merge last year it has been decided that service would be downgraded drastically and the name of the merged airline would be Alaska Air.

Sir Richard has removed himself from any association with the airline so by next year the rankings will, in all likelihood, not find Alaska/Virgin any where near Virgin America's previous customer satisfaction rank.

Delta comes next with a ranking of 35, the second highest scored US airline, between Malaysia Airlines at 34, and Korean Air at 36th.

But after the top 50 places it is embarrassing (for Americans) to see how many of the big US airlines rank in the bottom half of world airlines - in other words among the worst.

At number 53 is jetBlueairways, an airline one step below Iberia and one step above Jetstar Asia.

United Airlines and Southwest Airlines rank almost the same at, respectively 68th and 66th.

Interestingly, the airline that falls between them at 67th in customer satisfaction is SriLankan Airlines.

After people watch this video a few times it is likely that United's ranking will fall even further, possibly below that of American Airline, an AA which one joker said definitely could use a 10-step program.

American Airlines is the worst ranked US airline at number 77. Just for comparison, American Airlines, the US airline with "Flagship class" is unable to meet the customer service standards of Ethiopian Airlines which is ranked 76, scoring one mark higher.

Airlines - the best and brightest.

Ranked in order of customer satisfaction here are the top 10 or best world airlines, but given that there are nearly 100 airlines in the survey it seems likely that picking from any of the top ten should be more a matter of scheduling or other reason because they are all pretty darn good.


Qatar Airways

Singapore Airlines

Cathay Pacific


Etihad Airways

Turkish Airlines


Qantas Airways


Why are US airlines so bad?

You might think customer service problems involve a very complex set of questions and policies, but actually there is one gigantic clue as to why so many airlines even from small countries do better than any of the US airline giants - competition, or, rather, the lack of it in the US.

The one most obvious fact about these airlines is that the best 20 or so are in countries which, like almost every country other than the US, there is a lot of competition between airlines.

In the U.S. a very few airlines directly or indirectly control about 80% of the industry.

What's the worst airline in the world?

It may come as a surprise to you that there even is such a thing, but Air Koroy, with a fleet of 15 airplanes, is the worst ranked airline in the world.

This is unsurprising when you learn it is the national (government owned and operated) airline of North Korea which is so well known for how well it treats tourists.