The airline you fly with can make all the difference to your overall satisfaction with your holiday or trip away. So why are so many airlines still getting it badly wrong and what can they do to get it right?
It’s interesting to see that British Airways and Ryanair, which have both been criticised by Which? in the past 12 months for not compensating passengers automatically or beyond the legal minimum required, are also among those that failed to impress passengers in our survey on best and worst airlines.
Drastic drop for BA
This hasn’t been a great year for BA. First, they disappointed customers following the catastrophic IT failure that ruined thousands of its passengers’ holidays by making it too difficult to claim. Then came the decision to withdraw free food from most of its short haul flights.
Now, the results of our latest survey of the best and worst airlines finds passengers increasingly frustrated with BA. They have slumped to third from bottom of the table, achieving a customer score of just 52%. A big drop from its mid-table ranking the previous year, when it had a customer score of 67%.
In a year when BA introduced paid-for sandwiches instead of a free food option, it’s perhaps unsurprising that passengers gave the airline’s food and drink just two stars. The same poor rating was given for seat comfort and value for money when flying short haul.
One passenger told us British Airways ‘used to be a quality airline, but in its search to save money everything has deteriorated’. Another said: ‘BA seems to have lost the plot with boarding, it’s a shambles’.
BA also found itself rated the third worst carrier on long-haul, behind rivals like Thomson and Thomas Cook for the first time ever in our survey with a customer score of just 50%.
A bad year for Ryanair
Ryanair is another airline that has let its passengers down this year. After failing to inform people of their rights when they cancelled thousands of flights, we intervened, leading to enforcement action from the Civil Aviation Authority. They reluctantly did the bare minimum to support passengers whose holiday plans were in tatters, but it was too little too late for most people affected.
Unsurprisingly you might say, Ryanair came in joint last place with Vueling with a customer score of just 45%, and also scored just one star from flyers for seat comfort.
Passengers told us Ryanair is ‘making people, including the elderly, queue on the stairs for up to 20 minutes’, and: ‘we felt we were travelling cattle class’.
Airline passenger preferences
The top spot for short haul flyers in our best and worst airlines survey goes to Auringny Air Services (80%), with the Channel Islands carrier gaining four stars from passengers for its boarding process, cabin environment and customer service.
Also at the top end, Jet2.com (76%) and Norwegian (76%) are proof that cheap prices don’t have to mean poor service. Both budget carriers were awarded four stars by passengers for their customer service.
In the long haul survey, Singapore Airlines finished on top for the second year running. The carrier received full marks in several categories and recorded a customer score of 88%, finishing significantly ahead of Emirates (82%) and Qatar Airways (78%) in second and third place respectively.
Your flight rights
So, what can airlines do to regain the trust of their passengers? Well, as a start we think it’s time for airline compensation to be upgraded, we’ve called on Ryanair and British Airways along with all airlines to introduce automatic compensation for passengers when things go wrong.
Currently, if your flight is delayed or cancelled, you may be able to claim compensation or get a refund – but it’ll depend on the reason for the delay or cancellation. If you’ve had a flight delay or cancellation then take a look at our advice guide and use our free tool to make a claim.
So, do you think airlines should automatically compensate for a delay or cancellation? Do you have a favourite airline? What do you think airlines should do to improve the passenger experience?