The World's Best Low-Cost Airline Is One You've Probably Never Heard Of

Good news: It may come to the US in 2017

By Diane Rommel

 
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28 December 2016

If you've traveled through southeast Asia — perhaps on the Banana Pancake Trail — you're no doubt familiar with the low-cost airline AirAsia and its rock-bottom fares for flights across the region.

Want to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi this weekend? That'll be 60 bucks, please.

"Region" may be too narrow a term for AirAsia's flight map, which includes destinations from Sydney to Tokyo and Tehran to Bali — all at a discount.

Website? Terrific. Flight experience? Just fine. It's like the JetBlue of Asia, if JetBlue flew to Hawaii. And China. It's little wonder, then, that the airline topped a list of the world's best low-cost airlines released by the consumer aviation website Skytrax. AirAsia's long-haul auxiliary, AirAsiaX, claimed a ranked at number six.

The most familiar airline on the list to most Americans takes the second position: Virgin America, which Business Insider says  is "not only the best low-cost airline in North America, it's also the best airline on the continent." Fantastic news — except for the conspicuous asterisk that this is all set to come to a (likely) end, given that the company was bought by the decidedly less groovy Alaska Airlines in April. (Au revoir, mood lighting.)

That means that in 2017, we may not see an American carrier on such a list, though several top low-cost airlines fly to America, including Norwegian (at number 3, and with this morsel of good news: "Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos plans to launch $69 trans-Atlantic flights in the near future from the US."). AirAsiaX also looks set to fly to the U.S. — Hawaii — in 2017, though the company originally hoped to kick off flights in 2016, so we'll see how that goes. 

Otherwise? You'll have to travel overseas (or at least to Canada) for your low-cost jetting.

Rounding out the list: the U.K.'s EasyJet at number four, followed by Aussie JetStar at five and Canadian WestJet at seven. The bottom three places went to India's IndiGo, JetStar Asia (based in Singapore), and Brazil's Azul — not coincidentally (given that "azul" means "blue" in Portuguese) launched by JetBlue co-founder David Neeleman. 

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