Worst short-haul airline revealed in new survey – and it’s not Ryanair

Passengers were asked to rate airlines based on customer service, boarding and value for money

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Wednesday 22 February 2023 08:19 GMT
Related: Ryanair and wizz air hit wit fines over ‘non transparent’ baggage polices

The worst short-haul airlines have been revealed in a new survey.

An annual study conducted by Which? asked travellers about their flying experiences during the last two years.

More than 8,000 customers were surveyed for this research, and passengers rated airlines based on key factors such as customer service, boarding experience and value for money.

Wizz Air was ranked the worst short-haul airline, with Ryanair, Eurowings, British Airways and Lufthansa on the list too.

Budget Hungarian carrier Wizz Air was criticised by respondents for poor customer service, with one customer calling their flight “an unpleasant experience”.

The airline was awarded just one out of five stars for boarding experience, cabin environment and seat comfort.

Wizz Air didn’t get more than two stars in any of the other categories either, including value for money and customer service. Overall, it emerged with a 48 per cent customer score.

Which? has cited previous research which found Wizz Air has some of the least generous legroom of the airlines surveyed. The consumer champion also outlines data from the Civil Aviation Authority showing that only 56 per cent of Wizz Air flights arrived on time last year.

Meanwhile, there have also been high numbers of complaints recorded about Wizz Air via the Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.

A WizzAir spokesperson told The Independent: “At Wizz Air, we do everything possible to ensure that passengers reach their destination on time and with minimal delay. We invest heavily into time performance, which is key to our ultra-efficient business model.

“A number of issues affecting the global aviation industry contributed to a worse time performance in 2022. These issues resulted from a widespread shortage in staff, in particular within air traffic control, ground operations and baggage handling, security and across airports. We are committed to constantly reviewing processes to mitigate these issues and are seeing an overall improvement in the on-time performance of our routes.

“Wizz Air operates a fleet of brand new, state-of-the-art Airbus aircraft, with an average age of 4.6 years, which offer passengers comfort, space, and modern interiors. The A321neo features the widest single-aisle cabin configuration with 239 18-inch-wide seats. Every aircraft is cleaned after each flight and deep cleaned every night.

“The onboard menu is reviewed and updated on a bi-monthly basis and, following customer feedback, a local products range was recently introduced on all Wizz Air UK flights. We welcome all customer feedback, so that we can continuously refine our processes to further enhance customer experience.”

Ryanair was ranked one place above Wizz Air, with a customer score of 52 per cent.

Passengers submitted one-star scores for boarding experience, seat comfort, food and drink and cabin environment. Others awarded the carrier two stars and one traveller said their experience with the low-cost airline was “just awful.”

On a more positive note, Ryanair was given three stars for customer service and value for money and passengers praised its “good, competitive pricing.”

When taking into account the overall survey average, only 0.5 per cent of Ryanair flights were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.

However, only 65 per cent of flights were found to arrive on time.

Eurowings was third from last with a customer score of 53 per cent, below British Airways with 56 per cent and Lufthansa with 57 per cent.

Other airlines were highlighted for key issues, including Eurowings having the most last-minute cancellations, as 3.4 per cent of flights were cancelled within 24 hours of departure.

Meanwhile, Jet2.com came top of the leaderboard with an 80 per cent customer score. It was awarded five stars for customer service and one passenger said the airline “excelled in all areas of customer support”.

Jet2.com also earned four stars for cabin cleanliness, boarding and value for money and three stars for seat comfort and food and drink. Additionally, only 0.5 per cent of its flights were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.

A spokesperson for British Airways told The Independent: “We don’t feel this small survey, conducted during one of the most challenging periods in global aviation, accurately represents the views of the tens of millions of customers who’ve chosen to fly with us over the same period.

“While we don’t claim to get everything right every time, we continue to be recognised for the service we offer, recently winning Best Airline 2022 at the News UK Travel Awards and nine Business Traveller Awards over the past two years.

“Our customers tell us they appreciate being able to choose from a range of cabins, flying to and from central airports at convenient times of the day, plus our investment in new aircraft, new seating, WiFi, new menus, the complimentary snacks and water we offer in our short-haul economy cabin, and the most generous hand baggage allowance of any UK airline.”

The Independent has contacted Ryanair, Eurowings and Lufthansa for comment.

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