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North Korea

Climb Aboard North Korea's Airline, Rated Worst In The World

For once you'll want to know where the emergency exits are
For once you'll want to know where the emergency exits are
Michael Hegenauer

Results from the world’s large largest airline rating portal Skytrax give high marks in Asia: Exactly seven airlines in the world have been give five-star ratings: ANA (All Nippon Airways), Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Hainan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

But at the other end of the scale is another Asian carrier: North Korea’s Air Koryo, the only airline on the planet to earn only one star. Passengers on the world’s worst airline have reported everything from military music being played during takeoff and landing, to propaganda films being shown and flyers being distributed during flights, and luggage littered all over the cabin because there’s not enough room in the hold.

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And the food ...! — Photo: Kristoferb

Skytrax also notes Air Koryo’s aged fleet of carriers (average age 28.4 years) and its frequency of canceled and late flights. But the economy comfort class gets three stars, and the cabin crew’s level of service and “enthusiasm” gets two stars. “Friendliness and hospitality” even earn two-and-a-half stars.

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At Beijing airport — Photo: shimin

The North Korean national airline is not in a position to live up to its slogan “Air Koryo — To the World!” because since 2006 its planes have not been allowed to land in Europe. The routes it currently runs are Pyongyang, North Korea and various destinations in China, and Vladivostok, Russia. The ban on landing in Europe does not apply to the airline’s two relatively new Tupolev TU-204 planes, but so far Air Koryo has not acted on that possibility.

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