BA falls below budget airlines in passenger satisfaction rankings

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British Airways, once promoted as the “world’s favourite airline”, has been named alongside Ryanair as one of the worst in the country after slumping close to the foot of an annual passenger league table.

The company was beaten by budget carriers such as Jet2, Easyjet, Flybe and Wizz Air in a ranking based on travellers’ experiences in the past 12 months.

Some passengers vowed not to travel with BA again after a year marked by IT failures and strikes, leading to mass flight cancellations.

The league table, compiled by the consumer group Which? and published today, placed BA in 15th place out of 17 airlines for the quality of short-haul flights, and 14th out of 15 for long-haul flights.

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Which? said that it represented a rapid fall from grace for the airline, which had been named the best short-haul carrier in the group’s 2015 survey.

The conclusions cap a difficult 12 months for BA. In August thousands of passengers had their plans thrown into chaos when the carrier suffered an IT failure, cancelling almost 130 flights and delaying at least 300 more. A month later BA was forced to ground 2,325 flights, almost its entire schedule, when pilots staged a two-day walkout affecting almost 200,000 passengers.

BA has hit back, questioning the accuracy of the study, which was based on a survey of 6,535 Which? members. It pointed out that the results for some higher-ranked airlines were heavily skewed because only a handful of survey respondents had flown with them this year. It said its own data indicated that customer satisfaction scores had increased on the back of BA’s £6.5 billion investment in new aircraft, airport lounges, food and technology.

The Which? study named Ryanair as the worst short-haul carrier overall for the sixth year in a row, with only 44 per cent of passengers satisfied with its performance.

Passengers criticised the “endless add-ons” during the booking process and the “finicky” luggage requirements with one passenger saying they were treated like “cash cows”. Customers gave the airline the lowest score of one star out of five in most categories including boarding, customer service and cabin experience. Vueling, the Spanish budget airline, which is owned by the same parent company as BA, was second from bottom with 54 per cent and BA was third on 55 per cent. Aurigny Air Services, the Guernsey airline, was top on 82 per cent, followed by the budget carrier Jet2 on 79 per cent.

Among long-haul carriers, American Airlines was named as the worst, scoring 48 per cent, followed by BA with 55 per cent. Singapore Airlines was top on 88 per cent.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel magazine, said: “Year after year the same culprits continue to sink to new lows yet for many of us there is a choice. You don’t have to keep booking with an airline that has let you down — or one that you loved for years but has slipped in quality. If you get a choice and you are flying short-haul, choose Jet2. It is better quality than BA and often has better fares than Ryanair. If you are heading to the states, Virgin Atlantic beats BA hands down.”

BA said: “Our own data shows customer satisfaction scores have increased, and continue to increase, as we deliver our £6.5 billion investment for customers on new aircraft, new food, new lounges and new technology.

“We offer our customers a choice of cabins on all our flights, lounges for business-class customers, free food for all long-haul flights and business class for short-haul, and we are delighted to be able to offer our customers the most extensive network by any UK airline, including newly added destinations to Pittsburgh, Charleston, Osaka and Antalya.”