Rottenair – Airline passengers name Ryanair the grubbiest carrier

Ryanair has been named the filthiest flight operator in the UK, with fewer than half of passengers rating the airline as good for cleanliness, according to a Which? Travel survey.

In a survey of almost 8,000 passengers, the consumer champion found that on average eight in 10 (81%) passengers rated cleanliness positively across 42 airlines.

However, this went down to less than half (42%) for those who flew with Ryanair, suggesting huge discrepancies in the level of cleanliness on board.

In fact, a quarter (24%) of Ryanair passengers went as far as to say cleanliness on flights was poor.

While Ryanair was not the only airline with passengers reporting dubious hygiene, it was significantly worse than the other airlines included in the study.

Many passengers who flew with WizzAir were also less than impressed with the cleaning. Only six in 10 (62%) found the cleanliness to be good and it was barely any better for those who chose to fly with Vueling or Iberia (63%).

In fact, when it came to WizzAir and Vueling one in 10 passengers (10%) rated the cleanliness of the cabin as ‘poor’.

Meanwhile, two-thirds (68%) of Easyjet passengers rated the cleanliness as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

This went up to three in four (78%) passengers for those who flew British Airways.

Almost all of the passengers who flew with Air New Zealand (97%), Singapore Airlines (96%), Emirates (95%), Qatar Airways (95%), Cathay Pacific (94%) and Swiss (94%) told Which? that they found the cleanliness onboard to be good.

When a Which? investigator boarded a Ryanair flight to check out the cleanliness themselves they were greeted by greasy tray tables, soiled headrests and dusty window sills.

Even worse, an ultraviolet light showed up stains on the tray table that could not be seen with the naked eye.

Last year, research conducted by Marketplace, a Canadian TV show, revealed the grim reality of the various types of bacteria, mould and yeast planes can play host to.

After analysing more than 100 samples collected on 18 domestic Canadian flights operated by three local airlines (Air Canada, WestJet and Porter), scientists found that headrests were the most contaminated place on a plane.

The most damning findings were headrests contaminated with staphylococcus and E. coli and seat-back pockets found to contain coliform bacteria – found in human faeces.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said:

“Faster and faster turnarounds are one thing but it is unacceptable for some airlines to be cutting corners when it comes to cleaning out their cabins properly – no matter how cheap the airline ticket.

“There are steps you can take; either choose your next flight on an airline that has a good track record for cleanliness or equip yourself with some antibacterial wipes. If you are flying Ryanair though, a biohazard suit might be more appropriate.”


Notes to editors:

  • Which? surveyed 7,901 members of its online panel in September and October 2018 which resulted in 12,459 experiences, of which 10,474 were economy flights.
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  • Ryanair was offered a Right to Reply but no response was forthcoming.

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