Turkish Airlines Pulls Out Of Skytrax

Filed Under: Turkish

Well this sure is interesting. Turkish Airlines has announced that they will no longer participate in the Skytrax World Airline Audit. The airline says that they will keep taking firm steps to improve their product, and from hereon out will only focus on direct customer feedback when decided what improvements to make.

Turkish Airlines A330

This is an interesting move, and if anything seems like a dig at Lufthansa, which became Europe’s first Skytrax 5-star airline late last year. Turkish Airlines has done pretty well with Skytrax ratings in the past — they’ve won many awards, and have actively promoted Skytrax all over the place. They’re rated a Skytrax 4-star airline, and last year picked up awards for being the best airline in Southern Europe, for having the best business class onboard catering, for having the world’s best business class lounge, and for having the best business class dining lounge.

Turkish Airlines business class catering

Turkish Airlines isn’t the first airline to pull out of Skytrax. Etihad Airways withdrew from Skytrax in 2014, though only for a while, because in 2016 they were awarded a Skytrax 5-star award.

I don’t want to make any public accusations here, but I do find the Skytrax business model curious. I’m skeptical of the metrics they use, and I’m skeptical because of the lack of disclosure they provide regarding the airlines they work with. Skytrax primarily makes money by providing consulting services to airlines, so at times I wonder what the correlation is between airlines they consult with and airlines that are well rated.

This would be the Toddlers & Tiaras equivalent of the pageant judge also coaching one of the contestants. Who do you think is most likely to win ultimate grand supreme?

I took serious issue with Skytrax awarding Lufthansa a 5-star rating. They completely contradicted themselves with how they issued that award. Skytrax’s CEO said a key metric in Lufthansa getting the 5-star rating was the following:

A key factor behind Lufthansa gaining 5-Star Airline Certification is the recently announced new business class cabin and seat that will be delivered when the airline receives their first Boeing 777X aircraft. 

Yet when Skytrax generically describes how they award ratings, they say this:

The consistency of an airline’s Product and service is a critical issue within their final Rating, and detailed focus is applied to the delivered realities. Particular attention is applied to the quality and consistency of cabin seating, IFE systems and associated cabin products. An airline offering less than 80% fleet-wide product consistency may find these conditions will have a negative impact on their final quality rating determination.

A key metric in winning the award was Lufthansa’s new business class, which will only start to be introduced in 2020, yet consistency of product is also an important metric? Hmmm…

Lufthansa’s new business class seat, coming 2020

Personally I take Skytrax ratings with a grain of salt. Of course I like the concept of airlines being motivated to improve their product in order to win awards, but I do have concerns about Skytrax’s objectivity. It’s also interesting how rarely they take away 5-star ratings from airlines that have earned it. Is that really fair, and does that account for the constantly changing services offered by airlines? Shouldn’t airlines have to win that rating year after year? For example, while Etihad may have been 5-star worthy a couple of years ago, increasingly I think that’s no longer the case, given their endless cost cutting.

Anyway, kudos to Turkish for telling Skytrax to bugger off, and I’d love to see more airlines do this. At the end of the day Skytrax is only well known because of the heavy promotion from airlines that score well.

What do you make of Turkish Airlines pulling out of Skytrax?

(Tip of the hat to @MeenzMev)

  1. To many of your points above, Skytrax has become a “pay for play” service and doesn’t really indicate quality to passengers. It’s the same reason why many mid-scale hotel brands (read: Fairfield, Hampton, etc.), don’t worry about AAA approval anymore. We live in the age when the every customer voice is more important than a paid expert (and I think that’s a good thing…to an extent)

  2. “It’s also interesting that they’ve never taken away a 5-star rating from an airline”. Not really, they took away Malaysia’s, whose status for years now is “under review”

  3. They also took away 5 star from Air NZ many years ago. Honestly I think this is a ploy from TK to get 5 star rating…..if it worked for Etihad……

  4. Skytrax hasn’t been reliable for years. I think this is fair way to GP from Turkish – it is ridiculous Turkish is given the same rating as BA, when BA is clearly and very distinctly subpar product! Lufthansa and Etihad are no way near 5 star either

    There are also some clear problems with their user reviews, if you look at the suspicious flurry of reviews for China Southern from mainly Chinese respondents.

  5. Great decision from TK! They were the best airline from Europe according to skytrax since 2010 which is well deserved considering their young fleet, a real business class on european flights, IFE, and great food.

    Of course Turkish Airlines cannot win again in 2017 if Lufthansa is rated as a 5* airline. Skytrax definitely is a scam.

    Lufthansa being a 5* star airline is a complete joke. I was on an intra-europe flight and they didn’t even move the business class divider (it was at row 3 even though on this flight there were 5 rows of business class). The flight attendant with her nasty attitude just said: ‘you are also business class, don’t worry’. I literally lost my shit.

    Oyea and economy food was given to the people at the door upon boarding. They didn’t even bother providing some decent service.

    Lufthansa should be ashamed with their oh so great hospitality. Some airlines deserve to live, others (*kuch* lufthansa) should die asap.

  6. They gave (or more likely got paid to) Air Canada 4*, when it’s at best a 2* airline.

    Last year they were about to announce the rating of AC rouge, but it would have been a joke if they have them anything more than 1* based on Rouge having the worst rating in the world on their own customer review site. So they just ended up not rating rouge at all, at the intervention of AC.

  7. It is like Moody’ and Standard and Poor’s charge client fees to rate their bonds. That would be a huge conflict of interest. Oh wait they already do.

  8. Lucky what are your conflict of interests?

    Can we rely on you to only suggest the best possible credit card? Would you write that there are other, better cards you can get that I am not even mentioning.

  9. Skytrax 4 star airlines is a large group. It can mean airlines that deserve 5 stars now but somehow is still 4 stars (JL) to airlines that are 5 stars worthy after some minor improvements (KE, CI, TK, MF, AF) to airlines that are just downright terrible (*cough* CZ and BA).

  10. Yea because paying some ‘consulting’ company money for some fake 5 star crap like Lufthansa does is embarrassing. Everyone should pull out.
    Lufthansa really shot themselves in the foot with their ‘5starhansa’ promos for an ‘award’ they bought.

  11. And Lucky I don’t know what your issue about lack of consistency is. Lufthansa is incredibly consistent.
    Exactly 0% of their planes got the business class product that won them this coveted ‘award’. So Kudos to LH and Skytrax for this one!

  12. @Bob I don’t see why you say that. I have loved my experiences on AC, they have all been very positive. Name another airline that has PTVs on the CRJ-900, or offers pretzels and soda on a 30 minute flight on a Q400.

  13. 10 across in Y for 777 should be automatically awarded max 4 stars. Treating human like animals doesn’t deserve the unnecessary recognition.

  14. I agree with the above that it’s pretty much a pay-to-play situation. Then again, maybe Erdogan got annoyed by winning an award that called Turkey part of Europe. When he recently announced his decision to ban Uber, he made it clear that Europe and Turkey are separate.

  15. @Zortan i think lots of flag carrier offer snacks and drinks on even short flight. GA offers snack box and drink service on their half-an-hour-in-the-air flight. And singapore airlines does too on flight service between KUL and SIN

  16. I think media should stop reporting Skytrax ratings. I fully agree that their system is currupted and biased. LH is by no means 5 star (even doubtful at 4 stars) and TK equally is not 5 star (but in contrary to LH a robust 4 star). And yes: Air Koryo is not great at all, same as most 3 star airlines, so why give them only 1 star? Right, they didn’t pay the Skytrax bill …

  17. My biggest problem with Skytrax is this – you can basically go on there and say something absolutely completely fabricated and there is no mechanism for the airline to respond, unlike on say trip advisor where a hotel can reply to feedback. I’ve read reviews on there of routes a particular airline doesn’t fly, or on an aircraft a particular airline doesn’t operate. And of course all the rants of people that give 1 star because they were late to the airport, missed their flight, on a restricted ticket and made to purchase a new one (helloooo that’s YOUR fault).

  18. Etihad will win this year; 2018 Best Low Cost Carrier
    As soon as they were awarded the 5 Star title the cost cutting begun & sadly still continues today….

  19. If operational excellence is a factor in SkyTrax ratings, this makes perfect sense:

    * TK’s operational capabilities are laughable – after multiple 6+ hour delays and downgrades on a trip, the only means I had of ensuring that the airline honour their own policies was to have a chargeback raised (and TK didn’t bother to respond to the issuer, so the claim was settled in my favour by default).
    * The new Istanbul airport is apparently opening this year, and the impact to operations is a big unknown when a new airport is involved.

  20. JDPowers is used by many consumer products. It is the same thing. You must pay them a fee to be included in their rankings. Often much better products are far superior but simply choose not to play the pay to play game.

  21. I laugh at all the ratings and go only by my own experiences of flying around the world for the last 40 years….but find Lucky’s observations worth taking note of!

  22. Skytrax is a jokey gimmick. Airlines know IN ADVANCE which flights are being evaluated by Skytrax “watchers” so you’re not getting an unbiased, independent rating by any stretch of the imagination.

  23. Turkish Airlines is a true GLOBAL AIRLINE, the Inflight product is descent but was much better a few years ago. Sometimes I wonder if skytrax is owned by QATAR AIRWAYS , or Its a subsidiary company of the QR group.

  24. They are just mad they got outbid when paying for the best airline in Europe award this year. Turkish Airlines never do anything to compensate me for delayed flights (Which are often), never provide sufficient information about delayed flights, or help with missed connections. Turkish FAs are a mixed bag, with some being arrogant and rude, while others going out of there way to be friendly. I once saw a flight attendant pick up a cup off the galley floor, and then not wash her hands. Once, I got food served with broken china inside the bowl. Granted, my last flight with them was actually a very pleasant experience, they are far from the best airline in Europe. Personally, whilst I think calling Lufthansa a 5 star airline is bs, I find their service to be extremely consistently good, and their product to be solid 4 star. While we are on the subject: How on Earth is BA still considered 4 star when at this point I would fly a US3 carrier over them?

  25. Skytrax will inform airlines which flight on test list so that designated flight will have excellent service. It’s also the reason why several disputable airlines are awarded stars from Skytrax. It’s totally a scam and fake news.

  26. @Speedbird – I agree with you completely regarding the lack of willingness to compensate for delayed flights (and follow their own published policies).

    I was delayed by over 6 hours getting into OTP *and* was downgraded from actual Business Class to that pathetic excuse for premium seating known as EuroBusiness.

    The rules are quite clear and published at https://turkishairlines.ssl.cdn.sdlmedia.com/file/636029672890722479CP.pdf . Turkish Airlines flat out refuse to take ownership and demanded that I take up a downgrade issue for the SFO-SEA leg on a ticket purchased via TK with the operator of that leg.

    It’s an utter joke operationally.

  27. “Personally I take Skytrax ratings with a grain of salt.”

    A grain? Hainan has been a 5 star airline for years. This shit means nothing. Lucky is a hack.

  28. I don’t know about Skytrax’ star ratings but Turkish gets some shocking reviews from travellers on Skytrax. I fly long haul regularly and find Skytrax’ consumer reviews pretty accurate and helpful in choosing airlines.

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