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World's Worst Airline Can't Quite Figure Out the Web

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What does a barely functioning airline like Air Koryo need most? A barely functioning website, what else? Plus, cruising with Korea.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL According to global airline ranking site Skytrax, there is but a solitary one-star carrier in the world. No, it's not American Airlines (NYSE:AMR) or Southwest (NYSE:LUV). It's North Korea's Air Koryo.

While Air Malawi, Sudan Airways, and Turkmenistan Airlines rest comfortably in the two-star category, the star awarded the North Korean flag carrier "represents a very poor Quality performance -- falling below the industry average in the different competitive rankings of Product and Service standards," according to Skytrax.

So, what does a barely functioning airline like Air Koryo need most? A barely functioning website, what else?

North Koreans themselves won't have access to the site, of course -- the country doesn't allow the citizenry to access to the Internet. For now, reports NK News, only foreign travelers will be able to book flights between Pyongyang and Air Koryo's three destinations -- Beijing, Shenyang, and Vladivostok.

Or will they?

From NK news:

But while the new online booking system might come as welcome news for some, tests conducted by NK News reveal no flights currently available for booking, even on days they are known to exist. To make things worse, even if tickets will ever be available, credit card payments are currently not possible, with would-be passengers required to make cumbersome deposits using the international wire transfer system.

And here's North Korea expert Dr. Leonid Petrov:

The new Air Koryo web site remains as dysfunctional as the rest of North Korean economy….Clearly, this web site is created with the purpose to impress the people who have never thought of traveling to Pyongyang. Those who have been to North Korea know that booking a ticket with Air Koryo is the easiest part of such trip: obtaining the DPRK visa is the real challenge. But even accredited diplomats and regular business travelers, who are welcome in Pyongyang and have open visas, will not find this new website particularly useful because it is not accessible from South Korea, it functions like a primitive database of flights but does not book anything, and nobody would feel safe to entrust his or her personal information to it.

North Korea's Cruise Ship

North Korea has been forging ahead, full steam, on bringing its tourism sector into the 21st century. Unfortunately, missteps have largely taken the place of momentum.

As we reported last year, the vacation for those willing to forgo the usual cruise ship amenities -- working toilets, valid insurance, a captain with an internationally recognized license – had finally arrived.

Yes, the first-ever North Korean cruise set sail from "the rundown northeastern port city of Rajin to the scenic resort of Mount Kumgang," according to France 24.
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