A unique ride
If an Air Koryo passenger ignores its no-photography rule, a flight attendant might take the camera and delete the pictures herself. Crumpling up a newspaper bearing the image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can earn travelers a stern lecture, or worse.
Those are among many quirks that may help explain why North Korea's airline has earned a singular distinction: It's been ranked the world's worst airline for four straight years.
Air Koryo is the only carrier to have been awarded just one star in rankings released recently by the UK-based SkyTrax consultancy agency. More than 180 airlines are included in the five-star ranking system, which is widely considered the global benchmark of airline standards.
Some experts and frequent Air Koryo passengers disagree with the "world's worst" title. The airline is a definitely a unique ride, but fairly reliable, they say. The SkyTrax ratings are focused on service and not safety.
"It's a bit of a giggle, actually. They are clearly not the world's worst airline," said Simon Cockerell, of the Koryo Group, a Beijing-based travel agency that specialises in North Korea. The agency has no relation to Air Koryo, though Cockerell and his tourists often fly on the airline.
Image: In this Saturday, June 27, 2015, photo, passengers board an Air Koryo plane at the Pyongyang International Airport, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Text: Eric Talmadge, Associated Press