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UK's least favourite airlines revealed

People leave a Ryanair plane
Ryanair has been in the bottom three of Which?’s airline survey for more than a decade now. Photo:Ints Kalnins/Reuters (Ints Kalnins / reuters)

Poor record on refunds have landed Ryanair (RYA.IR) and BA (IAG.L) the title of Britain’s least favourite short-haul airlines.

According to a survey by Which? budget airline Ryanair received an overall score of 55% and just 47% in the refund satisfaction category.

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

Another passenger added: “Total lack of transparency about costs, and treating passengers like cattle to be squeezed for the last penny.”

Read more: Ryanair to offer discount flights as bookings drop

One in five customers said it took them more than a month to get a refund from the Irish budget carrier.

Ryanair has been in the bottom three of the magazine’s airline survey for more than a decade now.

When asked, ‘Is there an airline you would never fly with?’, three-quarters (74%) named Ryanair.

The airline scored no better than two stars for all the measures in the main customer satisfaction survey - apart from value for money, where it scored three stars.

Coming in at second from the bottom, with an overall customer score of 63% is BA.

Passengers complained about spending hours on hold only to be hung up on, or passed endlessly between different departments.

The lack of customer service, along with two-star ratings for food and drink, seat comfort and value for money, led one passenger to describe BA as “a budget style airline at premium prices”. However, BA’s cabins ranked as joint cleanest alongside KLM and Jet2.

British Airways. Aircraft
BA was described as 'budget airline with premium prices' by a respondent to Which? survey. Photo: Massimo Insabato/Archivio via Getty (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

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

Read more: EasyJet cuts losses in half despite Omicron hit

TUI Airways is Britain’s third least favourite airline, with a score of 64%.

“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,” editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said.

“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.”

Short-haul airlines rated. Source: Which?
Short-haul airlines rated. Source: Which?

At the other side of the spectrum, Jet2 was top of the table. Its record on delivering refunds was the best: more than eight in 10 (84%) respondents were satisfied with the outcome when their flight was disrupted because of COVID, and throughout the pandemic, most passengers have received a resolution in two weeks.

Nine in 10 Jet2 customers told Which? they got a full refund, rather than getting a voucher. One Which? survey respondent said: “The pandemic has seen Jet2 shine. Its standard of customer care exceeds that of any other low-cost airline.”

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?