airplane in the ksy
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When thinking about the range of qualities we look for in an airline, the ability to deliver us to our destination alive is at the top of the list (just slightly edging out leg room). Safety is primary when flying: we want to travel on airlines that are rigorous about safety inspections, use innovative navigation technology, and adhere to basic best practices, like making sure the plane is heading in the right direction and closing all doors before taking off.

Unfortunately, some airlines—as per the ratings listed on—have some work to do. The aviation safety–focused website performs a comprehensive analysis of data from several international aviation and government sources and gives every airline they monitor a numerical rating from 1 to 7. (Airlines that receive a 7 are considered the safest; those that receive a 1 are the least safe.) The ratings are based on several factors, including whether or not the airline is FAA-endorsed, if it meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, and whether it operates only Russian-built aircrafts (which, apparently, automatically earns an air carrier a demerit).

So which airlines flunked this evaluation? Here's a list of all the carriers evaluated by that received a 3 or lower, divided by rating and how likely we'd be to fly on them:

Editor's Note: Since the publication of this piece, has updated their ratings of certain carriers to reflect the distinct safety-related factors that airlines flying small aircrafts in difficult-to-access locations face. It is also important to note that the list of airlines rated by is not comprehensive; therefore the airlines with the lowest safety ratings on the site could, in some cases, be safer than airlines not included on the list at all. For more information on how makes their evaluations, please see their website.

That's Okay, I'll Pass (Rating: 3)

  • Afriqiyah
  • Air Bagan
  • AirAsia Thailand
  • AirAsia Zest
  • Avia Traffic Company
  • Bangkok Air
  • Camair-Co
  • Cambodia Angkor Air
  • Drukair Royal Bhutan
  • FastJet
  • Felix Airways
  • Fly540
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • JetStar Pacific
  • LAM
  • Libyan Airlines
  • Nauru Airlines
  • Orient Thai Airlines
  • Polynesian Airlines
  • Scat
  • Somon Air
  • Tajik Air

Definitely Not (Rating: 2)

  • Airlines PNG
  • Ariana Afghan Airlines
  • Blue Wing
  • Daallo Airlines
  • Kam Air
  • NOK Air

Not If You Paid Me (Rating: 1)

  • Batik Air
  • Citilink
  • KalStar Aviation
  • Lion Air
  • Nepal Airlines
  • Sriwijaya Air and Nam Air
  • Tara Air [Editor's Note: Tara Air's rating is now listed as "Pending" on As per Captain Samir Sajet, a regional aviation safety officer for the UAE, Tara Air and sister carrier Yeti Air are "the only airlines in Nepal to achieve an IATA global safety standard" and "the only Nepalese fixed-wing operators to have been assessed by the UN World Food Programme as having good enough safety standards to pre-qualify for their global humanitarian air charter work."]
  • TransNusa
  • Wings Air
  • Xpress Air

The World's 20 Safest Airlines

On a brighter note, just released their annual announcement of the world's 20 safest airlines. At the top of the list for the third year in a row is Australian carrier Qantas, which has never had a fatality. Here's the full list, in alphabetical order: American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia.

Anya Hoffman is a contributing digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter at @anya_hoffman.