British Airways struggles in annual airline survey as Ryanair finishes bottom

The results of Which?’s latest survey of the best and worst airlines finds passengers increasingly disappointed in BA

Which?’s short-haul annual airline survey shows a huge variance in the performance of airlines that fly from the UK, with British Airways, Ryanair and Vueling all falling far short of passenger expectations.

British Airways has slumped to third from bottom of the table, achieving a customer score of just 52%. It was ranked mid-table the previous year, with a customer score of 67%.

In a year when BA did away with free food on most short-haul flights and instead introduced paid for M&S sandwiches, 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.

Ryanair, which faced enforcement action from the Civil Aviation Authority after failing to properly inform people of their rights following the cancellation of thousands of flights earlier this year, came in joint last place with Vueling with a customer score of just 45%, scoring just one star from flyers for seat comfort.

At the top end of the table, (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. Top spot 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.

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.

US carriers United Airlines and American Airlines both performed poorly at the other end of the table, with customer scores of just 39% and 46% respectively. Neither airline scored more than two stars for anything other than cabin environment.

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%. Last year it received a customer score of 60%. As with short-haul, passengers rated the food and drink, seat comfort and value for money at just two stars.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said:

“Passengers are telling us that there are many different ways to be a great airline, but providing great service at an acceptable price is a must have.

“BA’s poor customer satisfaction shows it clearly needs to step up its game in a year that has been beset with problems. From the food and drink on offer, to the poor value for money of the journey itself, the airline has a lot of work to do to improve the experience that passengers associate with the airline.”


1.     In September and October 2017, we asked Which? members to complete an online survey about their recent experiences of flying with an airline from the UK. Our customer scores are based on a combination of overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the airline to a friend. We recorded 11,625 member experiences, of which 9,623 were for economy flights. Only airlines rated by at least 30 members are included. CAA punctuality data is from August to July 2017.

2.     British Airways told us:

“British Airways is a premium airline committed to customer choice. We offer customers the biggest network from London’s most central airports, a loyalty programme with huge benefits and the best punctuality record of the three big short-haul operators from the capital. We also give our growing numbers of customers a wide choice of fares and services.

“In 2018, our investments for customers will include 20 new aircraft, even more new routes, upgraded cabin interiors, significantly improved catering in long-haul economy and the roll-out of our new Club catering and bedding services across our long-haul network.”



Press Release