British Airways is the airline most likely to leave customers disappointed when they complain about problems with delays and cancellations, according to a Which? survey.
As British holidaymakers brace for a summer of potential travel disruption with a series of strikes looming, the consumer champion collected details of more than 2,500 experiences from passengers who suffered delays and cancellations – finding out how they rated their airline’s immediate response and handling of any subsequent complaints or claims.
The results reveal that in some cases passengers had the stress of facing delays or cancellations compounded by woeful customer service.
In almost half (44%) of all cases, passengers said there were no staff at all available to help them – and even when airline employees could be found they were not helpful in one in five cases (20%).
Only one in four people (27%) told Which? they were satisfied overall by the way their grievance was handled when they complained about a delay, while six in ten (61%) were left disappointed.
The lowest level of satisfaction was recorded by BA passengers – only one in seven passengers (15%) were satisfied with the outcome of their complaint, while three-quarters (75%) were left dissatisfied.
This was considerably higher than the number of disappointed travellers with Ryanair (63%) and easyJet (49%).
But British Airways passengers affected by disruption were at least able to find a member of staff at the airport in (69%) seven in ten cases.
Ryanair customers were the least likely to be able to find a member of staff to assist them – six out of 10 (61%) passengers with the Irish carrier said they found themselves in this position.
The passengers most likely to be given assistance by staff in the event of a delay or cancellation were those who flew with Emirates (74%), Jet2 (73%) and Virgin Atlantic (73%).
Which? found that when airline staff were on hand to assist with inquiries, they were generally helpful – passengers said staff were helpful in 80 per cent of cases overall.
This was the case for BA customers who reported helpful staff in four out of five (82%) occasions, however, 18 per cent of passengers told Which? that the airline’s staff was not helpful.
Just over half (58%) of Ryanair customers who manage to find a member of staff said that they found them helpful, while two in five (42%) found them to be unhelpful.
Norwegian Air and Jet2 staff were both deemed to be the most helpful overall (92%).
Which? Travel’s Naomi Leach, said:
“Our research shows that it’s not just the usual suspects who are letting their customers down with poor customer service – even British Airways is falling well short in dealing with complaints when flights are delayed or cancelled.
“With the potential for widespread disruption to summer holiday travel plans in the coming weeks, airlines must ensure they have the staff and resources to deal sensitively with passengers hit by delayed or cancelled flights.”
Notes to editors:
In September and October 2018, we surveyed Which? Connect members and collected 2,659 experiences of airline cancellations and delays. They rated their satisfaction with the airlines’ response and the handling of any subsequent complaints or claims.