Ryanair and British Airways named worst airlines in Which? survey

‘Ryanair is the most awkward airline to deal with that I have ever come across. It seems to be proud of being difficult,’ says one customer

Joanna Whitehead
Thursday 03 February 2022 09:51 GMT
Passengers queue at a Ryanair check-in counter in Valencia
Passengers queue at a Ryanair check-in counter in Valencia (AFP via Getty Images)

Ryanair and British Airways have been named the worst short-haul airlines in an annual survey by Which?, with one passenger describing Ryanair as “proud of being difficult”.

Passengers slammed the carriers for their poor customer service when dealing with disrupted flights during the pandemic.

The consumer champion surveyed more than 1,300 passengers to establish their views on short-haul airlines in areas such as boarding, cabin cleanliness, customer service and value for money since November 2019.

More than 1,100 passengers whose flights were disrupted during the pandemic were also polled on their level of satisfaction with how their airline had managed the issue.

Budget carrier Ryanair received an overall customer score of 55 per cent, dropping to 47 per cent in the refund satisfaction category, with one in five customers telling Which? it took more than a month to get a refund for a cancelled flight.

“Ryanair is the most awkward airline to deal with that I have ever come across,” said one customer. “It seems to be proud of being difficult.”

Another complained about the Irish carrier’s “total lack of transparency about costs”, and for “treating passengers like cattle to be squeezed for the last penny”.

A whopping three-quarters of those surveyed named Ryanair when asked, “Is there an airline you would never fly with?”.

The airline has been in the bottom three in Which?’s annual survey for the last decade.

UK flag-carrier BA came second from the bottom, with a customer score of 63 per cent.

Passengers reported spending hours on hold to the airline only to be hung up on, or passed endlessly between different departments.

Others criticised the carrier’s food and drink, seat comfort and value for money, with one passenger describing BA as “a budget-style airline at premium prices”.

Despite this, BA’s cabins ranked as joint cleanest alongside KLM and Jet2.

At the other end of the scale, Jet2 came top of the table, with the best record on delivering refunds.

Eighty-four per cent of respondents were satisfied with the way their disrupted flight was handled, with most passengers having the matter resolved within a fortnight. Nine in 10 of those polled said they received a full refund, rather than being issued with a voucher.

Jet2’s Covid flexibility was named as the best, with customers able to make fee-free changes for pandemic-related disruptions such as lockdowns and quarantine rules.

“The pandemic has seen Jet2 shine,” commented one respondent. “Its standard of customer care exceeds that of any other low-cost airline.”

Editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said: “Ryanair’s consistently terrible customer service has made it a fixture among the worst performers in our surveys for many years - but the airline plumbed new depths with its handling of Covid refunds.

“BA’s reputation also deservedly took a battering when it took a hard line on refunds for passengers who could not travel because they followed government health guidance.”

He added: “Many passengers will not forget how they were treated by companies during the pandemic. Covid could still cause disruption to international travel, so we would advise travellers to book with operators that have flexible booking policies and a record of treating their customers fairly.”

The Independent has approached Ryanair for comment.

British Airways told The Independent: “We’re proud that we were the first UK airline to offer customers the flexibility to amend their plans at the beginning of the pandemic, by providing vouchers that they can use up to September 2023.

“If we cancel a flight we always contact customers to offer a range of options including a full refund. We've issued more than 4.2 million refunds and have dealt with more than 3.3 million voucher requests to date.

“However, we know we can do better and we're working hard behind the scenes, upgrading our phone systems and recruiting more people to deliver a better and faster customer experience that we know our customers deserve.

“We never take our customers’ loyalty for granted and appreciate their patience as our teams work around the clock to support them.”

Short-haul airlines ranked by customer satisfaction

Jet2: 82%

KLM: 75%

EasyJet: 70%

Tui: 64%

BA: 63%

Ryanair: 55%

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