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Europe’s Inferior Airlines Rated for 2023

The 3 Worst European Airlines - Inferior Carriers Ranked for 2023

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
6 minutes read
Last Updated: May 02, 2024

Travel can be both a fun and frustrating experience. Part of that frustration can come from interrupted flights, uncomfortable seats, and even the high price you pay for the privilege. At AirAdvisor, we help customers with delayed and cancelled flight compensation, so we know firsthand how important it is to choose the best airline possible. To determine the 3 worst European airlines, we looked at:

  • Over 5.5 million flights from January 2022 to September 2023 (inclusive) to determine reliability. 
  • 638,698 reviews from passengers.
  • 13 European airline policies related to comfort and both pet and family travel.
  • More than €400 billion in passenger revenue to find the cheapest airlines.

All these numbers (and more) led us to establish the Best Airlines in Europe, and now we explore the flip side of that - the 3 worst.

Air Europa is the worst airline in Europe

Europe’s Worst Airline - Air Europa

After we totalled all the scores for the 15 European airlines involved in our study, Air Europa emerged as the worst overall, with the fewest points across the 9 categories. While Air Europa wasn’t technically at the bottom for any one category, below-average performance in just about every category is what earned them this unfortunate title.


First, the good news. Air Europa received top points for safety because they did not have an accident in 2022 or 2023 (up to the publishing date). The Spanish airline is also in the middle of the pack for comfort, which is respectable. They offer complimentary snacks and drinks, Wi-Fi for a fee, and the seats are fairly comfortable.

For reliability, the airline is among the best for cancelled flights because there aren’t many in a year. They also have respectable numbers for delayed flights, so flight interruptions are relatively uncommon. The small number of annual flights drags their percentage down, but that shouldn’t affect passengers.

Has your European flight been interrupted recently? If so, you may qualify for compensation based on EU regulation 261. Contact us today to start your claim.

Where Air Europa predominantly falls short is with professional reviews. Of the 29 professional awards we used, Air Europa did not receive a single one. As for their below-average scores, that’s everything from price to customer reviews to lounges. If you’re looking for a well-rounded European Airline, this likely isn’t it.

Ryanair narrowly missed the title of the worst European airline

Second-worst European Airline - Ryanair

It’s almost impossible to plan travel around Europe without encountering an affordable Ryanair flight in your search. The ubiquitous Ireland-based airline advertises some crazy-low-priced fares, but according to our research, they are not the cheapest - that’s Wizz Air. But still, Ryanair is definitely a good option for budget-conscious travellers, as they secured fourth place in this category.

Ryanair is a fine airline to travel as a family, but they just do what everyone else does, so nothing sets them apart here. But what does set them apart is their reliability record. Ryanair was the best European airline overall for reliability in our rankings, so you can generally count on them to get you where you’re going and on time.

Ryanair was the only airline in our data set with zero comfort points. Zero. And anyone who’s travelled with this low-cost carrier shouldn’t be too surprised; that’s not their business model. Ryanair also scored the worst in the safety category (shared with 2 other airlines), as they had a non-fatal accident in 2023.


Don’t even think about travelling with a pet on Ryanair - it’s prohibited. And the not-so-good news doesn’t end there. Ryanair is also the third-worst European airline based on customer reviews, which certainly says something. 

Volotea is Europe’s third-worst airline

The “Bronze Medal” - Volotea

Volotea is the second Spanish-based carrier to appear on our list of the worst airlines in Europe. But, with so many categories, we can still find some positive attributes. Volotea takes second place overall for an important factor: customer reviews. Their consolidated review score was 2.64 out of 5, which we know sounds low, but the best score was only 2.82.

After Air France, Volotea was the least reliable European airline overall for 2022 and 2023, but part of that number accounts for the airline's low number of flights annually. Regarding delayed flights, Volotea is generally in the middle of the pack. The airline was also accident-free in 2022 and 2023.


Volotea also ranks really low for comfort and is among Europe’s worst airlines for pet travel. Additionally, Volotea lost many points for cost as their data was unavailable. So, while they may bill themselves as a low-cost airline, without publishing their revenue and balance sheet, we can’t confirm that.

Encountered a delay with Volotea or another European airline? Check our compensation calculator today to see if you qualify for up to €600.

AirAdvisor Worst European Airlines Rating 2023

 Ranking Consolidated scoreMost ReliableMost ComfortableSafest AirlineCheapest AirlineCustomer reputation scoreAir Lounges reviewsProfessional reviewsFamilyPets
Air Europa15th place5.785713464166
Ryanair14th place615021236781
Volotea13th place6.6724134145963
TAP Portugal11th place7.11117087103810
Wizz Air11th place7.1192131569451
LOT Polish Airlines10th place7.336813587586
Vueling9th place7.89131131348856
Air France8th place8.671913105111586
SAS7th place8.783713119126810
KLM5th place9.22129261310111010
Norwegian Air Shuttle5th place9.2210613131213286
Lufthansa4th place9.6789134101213810
Finnair3rd place9.8971013911151266
Aegean Airlines2nd place10.33510137151510810
Iberia1st place10.5614713145141486


As part of your selection process for your next flight, knowing what you can likely expect is essential. Now you know that Air Europa, Ryanair, and Volotea are the worst airlines. Europe is full of flight choices, so you should avoid these if possible - unless reliability is your number one factor, of course. Then, by all means, book with Ryanair.


What is the worst airline in Europe?

Based on a comprehensive study by AirAdvisor, Spain’s budget carrier, Air Europa, is the worst European airline. When we look at 9 factors, Air Europa doesn’t stand out in any category and generally ranks below average of the 15 airlines included in our research.

What is the best airline in Europe?

For 2023, our extensive research found that Iberia is the best choice for a flight in Europe. They are reliable, safe, affordable, and often earn prestigious awards. What more do you need?

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Adrian Labaton 24.05.2024

Every time we fly Ryanair it's delayed. Monday our to Alicante 1 hour. Today coming back to Bristol 1hr 30mins at least. I'LL NEVER LEARN!!

ryanair 14.03.2024

ryanair is the best airline in the world

Juan 06.12.2023

Last summer, I flew with Air Europa. The delay was frustrating, and customer service was non-existent.

Jessica 06.12.2023

Reading this while waiting for my delayed flight with one of these airlines. Guess I should've done my homework!

Sam 06.12.2023

Very useful, but surprised that Ryanair is not the worst airline

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