Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Your best might not be the same as mine.

My best involves such quaint notions as legroom, smell and whether there's a rude, crude stranger sitting next to me.

For many people, though, the shock of an on-time arrival is what leads them to joy.

Here, then, is a compilation of the best airlines in the world for 2016.

It was calculated according to the quaint notion of on-time arrival.

The data was prepared by Flight Stats. This is an organization which, as the name implies, is rather keen to examine every single stat about flights.

Flight Stats explained to Bloomberg that if you happen to book on an airline that doesn't quite bathe in punctuality, you might have a 55 percent chance of being late.

Being wise and booking on one of the more reliable carriers might see that figure shrink to 11 percent.

So who's worst? The list of the Downtrodden 10 sees El Al at the bottom. Just above it is, of all airlines, Icelandair. Does it take that long to defrost a plane?

Oddly, the remainder of the Late Late Show all come from Asia.

Some might be surprised that Air India comes third. It's easy to get an impression about an airline from its advertising or even seeing its planes at an airport.

I'd thought of Air India, a Star Alliance member, as an impressive-looking airline. The data, though, suggests that it has a high altitude of lassitude.

Air India was followed by Philippine Airlines, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Air China, Korean Air and Hainan Airlines in the basement.

In the case of Air India, its flights were late 38.71 percent of the time. (El Al's were late 56 percent.)

The list of the best might surprise you even more. It did me. I somehow had preconception that Singapore Airlines must be at the top. I also assumed that no American airline would be anywhere near the top.

Life experience, you see, can affect the feelings.

Yet the data said something different.

In first place was KLM. The Dutch airline seems to be an unusual paragon of efficiency, with a mere 11.47 percent of its flights not arriving when the airline said they would.

Right behind it was Iberia. And there you were preparing some kind of mañana joke. Shame on you.

Japan's JAL was third, Qatar Airways fourth, followed by Austrian and ANA.

Singapore Airlines stumbled in at Number 7. Number 7? Is this allowed? (Disclosure: Many moons ago, I was one of those responsible for Singapore Airlines' advertising. So I'm allowed a little humor.)

But it's the 8th spot that might make your eyelids twitch. It was Delta. Yes, that Delta. The Delta that's dabbling in a Sub-Cattle Class. The Delta that had the computer outage to end all computer outages. Until an even worse one comes along, that is.

How well do these results coincide with your own impressions of these airlines? Did you imagine a US airline would be in the Top 10? I bow and confess I didn't.

Perhaps, then, when you're booking your next trip it's worth looking at the on-time stats.

It's also worth remembering just how much airlines pad their flight-times these days. For example, it takes longer to fly to from New York to Houston in 2016 than it did in 1973.

When it comes to airlines, things are rarely looking up.

Published on: Jan 10, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.