These Are the World's Best (and Worst) Airports & Airlines

No matter how prepared you are before getting to the airport, there's no accounting for every little thing that might throw a wrench in your best-laid travel plans...

Tokyo International Airport | Shutterstock
Tokyo International Airport | Shutterstock

No matter how prepared you are before getting to the airport, there's no accounting for every little thing that might throw a wrench in your best-laid travel plans. Bad weather, long security lines, aircraft mechanical issues, lost luggage... rogue dog poop and unbearable stenches, it's all out of your control. Even when everything goes perfectly right, it's no wonder flying feels so exhausting.

Of course, certain airlines (and airports) are more likely to treat you to a smoother experience. Now, it's easier to figure out which to seek out and which to avoid, thanks to a brand new study revealing this year's best and worst airlines and airports around the world. 

Spoiler alert: The United States has some catching up to do.

In its 2019 annual rating of airlines and airports around the globe, the folks at AirHelp -- a service that helps passengers get compensated for delayed, canceled, and overbooked flights -- looked at over 40,000 customer surveys and commercial vendor data to figure out which earned top marks, and which are frequently plagued with problems. 

To crunch the numbers on the 72 best-known and most-flown airlines it had data on, the team looked at stats regarding everything from on-time performance, service quality (e.g., food, comfort, and crew ratings), and claim processing, or how efficiently they get folks reimbursed for various issues. For the second year in a row, Qatar Airways earned the top spot, while American Airlines and Aeromexico came in second and third, respectively. These are the top 10 best (and worst) airlines in the world in 2019.

Best Airlines of 2019

10. Emirates
9. Austrian Airlines
8. Luxair
7. WestJet
6. LATAM Airlines
5. Qantas
4. SAS Scandinavian Airlines
3. Aeromexico
2. American Airlines
1. Qatar Airways

Worst Airlines of 2019

10. Adria Airways 
9. Aerolineas Argentinas 
8. Transavia 
7. Laudamotion 
6. Norwegian
5. Ryanair 
4. Korean Air 
3. Kuwait Airways 
2. EasyJet 
1. Thomas Cook Airlines

Figuring out the best and worst airports around the globe required a slightly different bit of research. For that, AirHelp looked into three separate factors for 123 airports it had data on: on-time performance, service quality (e.g., surveys on customer service, line lengths, and cleanliness), and food and shopping options. Topping the list yet again in 2019 is Qatar's Hamad International Airport, followed by Tokyo International Airport, and Athens International Airport. Here's are the top 10 best and worst ranked airports this year.

Best Airports of 2019

10. Viracopos/Campinas International Airport, Brazil
9. Tenerife North Airport, Spain
8. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, India
7. Changi Airport Singapore, Singapore
6. Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia
5. Gdansk Lech Wałęsa Airport, Poland
4. Afonso Pena International Airport, Brazil
3. Athens International Airport, Greece
2. Tokyo International Airport, Japan 
1. Hamad International Airport, Qatar 

Worst Airports of 2019

10. London Gatwick Airport, United Kingdom 
9. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Canada
8. Porto Airport, Portugal
7. Paris Orly Airport, France 
6. Manchester Airport, United Kingdom 
5. Malta International Airport, Malta 
4. Henri Coanda International Airport, Romania
3. Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands 
2. Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
1. Lisbon Portela Airport, Portugal

You'll notice not a single US airport is among the top 10 best in the world. In fact, the first American hub to appear on the list is Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International, which took the No. 34 spot. AirHelp says that congestion and long lines are a big problem area for airports in America, as they are increasingly for most hubs around the world.  

"Some airports are expanding quickly, but it’s still a big issue for most, especially during peak hours," AirHelp's CEO Henrik Zillmer toldBloomberg. Of course, it's worth noting that certain airports receive a disproportionate number of weather-relayed delays -- and are subsequently dinged for that -- simply based on the climate and conditions. 

As for what airlines need to do to improve their rankings, Zillmer believes they should be stepping up their claims processing efficiency to make it easier on passengers to re-book delayed or canceled flights. Still, it appears American carriers have made an improvement since last year, as three are now in the top 20 (American, United, and Delta). 

Then again, if you're more concerned with in-air comfort, you may want to peruse another list before booking your next flight.

h/t Bloomberg

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.