Ryanair voted the worst airline for the sixth year in a row with tiny Channel Islands carrier Aurigny topping the short-haul ranking – but it’s Singapore Airlines that’s named No1 overall
- In 2019 Ryanair will carry 141m customers, a 78 per cent increase over the 79m it carried six years ago
- The Irish-based no-frills airline made £1.75billion last year from ‘extras’ – 28 per cent of its revenue
- The poor performers in the long-haul ranking include United, American Airlines and Thomson/Tui Airways
Ryanair has finished bottom of the respected Which? annual airline survey for the sixth consecutive year.
In the consumer champion’s poll passengers gave the budget carrier the lowest possible rating for boarding, seat comfort, food and drink, and cabin environment – leaving it with a dismal overall customer score of 40 per cent.
The No1 ranked short-haul airline is tiny Channel Islands carrier Aurigny, which operates just nine aircraft, while the top-rated long-haul operator is Singapore Airlines. And its impressive score of 85 per cent is the highest of both categories.
Ryanair has finished bottom of the respected Which? annual airline survey for the sixth consecutive year – but the results have never dented its sales figures
Ryanair’s reputation has declined so much that thousands of respondents told the consumer champion that they would never again fly Ryanair – even if it was cheaper than its rivals.
Of those who said there was one airline with which they’d never travel, 70 per cent named Ryanair – no other airline came close.
Ryanair ruined the holiday plans of thousands of people in 2018 by cancelling flights and then refusing to pay its passengers compensation – resulting in the Civil Aviation Authority taking enforcement action.
The airline made £1.75billion last year from ‘extras’ – 28 per cent of its revenue.
Assigned seating on the airline can cost up to £30 each for a return journey, priority boarding, which includes a wheelie cabin case, costs an extra £12 and the cost of checking in extra luggage can also be significant.
The No1 ranked short-haul airline is tiny Channel Islands carrier Aurigny, which operates just nine aircraft
The airline also repeatedly tinkered with its luggage rules, risking confusion among passengers with three separate changes over the course of the year. One passenger told Which?: ‘There are too many rules. I worry about getting caught with hidden costs.’
However, despite its terrible Which? scores over the past six years, the airline has only grown in terms of passenger numbers – its traffic grew 12 per cent to 10.3million customers in the month of December, up from 9.3million in December 2017.
So clearly passengers aren’t yet willing to desert the carrier.
The other names at the bottom of the short-haul ranking are British Airways, which comes fifth from last with a score of 56 per cent (up from 52 per cent last year), Vueling Airlines (54 per cent), Wizz Air (54 per cent) and Thomas Cook Airlines (52 per cent), which lies second from bottom.
Wizz and Veuling both share a two-star rating for customer service with Ryanair.
EasyJet manages a better customer score than both Ryanair and BA, coming in the middle of the rankings with 63 per cent – getting customers from A to B without too much drama for not much money.
The rest of the top five, meanwhile, comprises Swiss Airlines (80 per cent), Jet2 (75 per cent), Norwegian (73 per cent) and in fifth place is KLM with 72 per cent.
But Aurigny Air Service trumps them all with an overall score of 81 per cent. It gets five stars for boarding, cabin environment and customer service.
In the long-haul category Singapore Airlines is the clear winner, though second-place Emirates’ score of 81 per cent is still noteworthy.
Plush: The top-rated long-haul operator is Singapore Airlines (pictured). And its impressive score of 85 per cent makes it the overall winner
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In third place is Qatar Airways with 80 per cent, fourth place goes to Cathay Pacific with 73 per cent and in fifth is KLM with an overall customer score of 70 per cent.
British Airways’ score is again underwhelming in this category.
It lies fifth from bottom as it does in short haul, but with a slightly better overall score of 58 per cent.
The rest of the bottom five comprises Thomas Cook Airlines (57 per cent), Thomson/Tui Airways (56 per cent), United Airlines (55 per cent) and languishing in last place is American Airlines with an overall customer score of 52 per cent.
In 2017 British Airways promised improvements after the 52 per cent short-haul score and garnering just 50 per cent for its long-haul services.
Emirates is ranked as the second-best long-haul airline. Pictured is one of its swanky first-class private suites
THE TOP AND BOTTOM FIVE CARRIERS IN THE WHICH? AIRLINE SURVEY – SHORT AND LONG HAUL
Aurigny – 81%
Swiss Airlines – 80%
Jet2 – 75%
Norwegian – 73%
KLM – 72%
British Airways – 56%
Vueling Airlines – 54%
Wizz Air – 54%
Thomas Cook Airlines – 52%
Ryanair – 40% (worst overall)
Singapore Airlines – 85% (best overall)
Emirates – 81%
Qatar Airways – 80%
Cathay Pacific Airways – 73%
KLM – 70%
British Airways – 58%
Thomas Cook Airlines – 57%
Thomson/Tui Airways – 56%
United Airlines – 55%
American Airlines – 52%
Bringing back a second meal on long haul and a pledge of more M&S sandwiches to buy on short haul went some way to arresting the decline, yet passengers still gave food and drink just two stars.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: ‘Airfares might seem to be getting cheaper, but only if you don’t fancy sitting with your family and children or taking even a small cabin bag on-board. Increasingly you need a calculator to work out what the final bill will be, especially with Ryanair.
‘The results of our survey show passengers are fed up. They should switch to one of their rivals, who prove that budget prices don’t have to mean budget service.’
Ryanair denied it had experienced significant problems as a result of the 2018 strikes, arguing that 90 per cent of schedules remained operational on strike days. It also said that ‘it delivers industry-leading customer service’.
It claimed that decreased punctuality in 2018 was largely due to Air Traffic Control strikes and added: ‘We’ve invested heavily in delivering on-time departures.’
In a statement it continued: ‘This Which? survey omits price, which is the single most important factor for UK consumers when it comes to airline choice.
‘Throughout 2018 Ryanair.com was the most visited airline website in the UK so demand from UK consumers to book and fly with Ryanair has never been higher.
‘The survey of almost 8,000 Which? members is totally unrepresentative and worthless compared to Ryanair’s 141million customers and given that Ryanair is Europe’s No.1 airline with the lowest fares, with an average fare of just €39, a fraction of the high fares charged by Which’s “recommended” airlines.
‘This year Ryanair will carry 141million customers, a 78 per cent increase over the 79million we carried six years ago, so these irrelevant ratings don’t reflect real passenger choices, which is the only survey which matters.’
Regarding the claim of ‘tinkering with luggage rules’ and ‘confusing passengers’ with hidden costs, the airline said: ‘Our new bag policy from November 1, 2018, has simplified our bag policy and improved the boarding gate experience and punctuality for all customers. All terms, fees, charges and optional extras are visible and transparent on our website. Ryanair has no hidden extras – all optional services/fees are brought to customers attention and agreed prior to booking.’
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: ‘We want all our customers to enjoy flying with us. We continue to invest in our product and services and offer over 50 short, medium and long-haul destinations from 10 airports in the UK. We rarely cancel flights, even in the most challenging of circumstances, such as at Gatwick before Christmas when we cancelled no flights and got all our customers on holiday.
The bottom five in the long-haul ranking comprises Thomas Cook Airlines (57 per cent), Thomson/Tui Airways (56 per cent), United Airlines (55 per cent) and languishing in last place is American Airlines with an overall customer score of 52 per cent
‘We are one of only a few airlines to offer a high quality hot meal through our partnership with chef James Martin, and our Airshoppen service is a unique spin on traditional duty free that allows our customers to order online in advance and have their purchases delivered to their seat on board the aircraft.’
However, many might argue that it should focus on its inflight entertainment, which received a rating of one star in the poll.
According to Which?, only 43 of the members who took part in the survey were United Airlines customers.
A spokesperspon for the airline told MailOnline Travel: ‘At United, we have made important progress to move decisively forward by investing in our products and people to ensure our customers are at the centre of everything we do. Every year we connect more than 148 million customers to communities around the world. ‘
American Airlines said: ‘American Airlines strives to provide a great travel experience for all of our customers. We have invested nearly $3billion into improving the customer experience including more lie-flat seats, faster Wi-Fi, more in-flight entertainment options, more power outlets, refurbished airport lounges and upgraded food and drink choices.’
Sheldon Hee, General Manager of Singapore Airlines UK & Ireland, meanwhile, said: ‘We are humbled that the UK public has given us their vote of confidence and we will continue to strive to exceed their expectations as we focus on our brand of service excellence. Our ambition as an airline is to provide customers with the best inflight products and services whichever cabin they choose to fly in and the results of Which? magazine’s airline survey provides much-valued feedback that we are delivering on those experiences.’
The survey, conducted in September and October 2018, asked 7,901 Which? members about their recent experiences of flying with an airline from the UK.
NEVER HEARD OF AURIGNY? HERE ARE SOME PLANE FACTS ABOUT THE HIGHLY RATED AIRLINE
Today the airline carries half a million passengers a year and has carried more than 16 million passengers since it was founded in 1968.
Based in Guernsey, Aurigny operates regularly between Guernsey and London Gatwick, Manchester, Alderney, Bristol, East Midlands, London Stansted and Southampton.
Aurigny also run seasonal flights to Grenoble, Leeds Bradford and Norwich.
Based in Guernsey, Aurigny operates regularly between Guernsey and London Gatwick, Manchester, Alderney, Bristol, East Midlands, London Stansted and Southampton
The airline operates with nine aircraft – one Embraer E195 jet, three ATR 72s, one ATR 42 and four Dornier 228s. The airline has just signed a purchase deal with ATR to buy three new ATR 72-600s which will be delivered to the airline in quarter three of 2019.
The new ATRs will be fitted with ‘ClearVision’ technology, which will allow the aircraft to land safely in fog using special cameras in the nose. Aurigny looks to be the first commercial airline to operate with ClearVision in the world.
The whole operation is run by 300 staff based in Guernsey, Alderney, Southampton and Gatwick.
Aurigny has come a long way since it took to the skies on the 1st of March 1968 with an islander aircraft carrying just nine passengers at a time between the Channel Islands. The first trip between Alderney and Guernsey cost each passenger £2.
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