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Ryanair and BA slammed for poor record on refunds

Written by: Emma Lunn
The pair were voted the UK’s least favourite short-haul airlines in an annual survey by Which?

Ryanair and British Airways finished at the bottom of the survey with both airlines panned for providing poor customer service to those with disrupted flights during the pandemic.

The consumer champion surveyed more than 1,300 passengers for their experiences of flying with short-haul airlines in areas such as boarding, cabin cleanliness, customer service and value for money since November 2019.

Which? also asked more than 1,100 passengers whose flights were disrupted how satisfied they were with how their airline handled the issue. The actions of some airlines – delaying or denying refunds for flights cancelled, or which passengers could not take, due to Covid – were reflected in these results.

Budget carrier Ryanair received an overall customer score of 55% and 47% in the refund satisfaction category, with one in five customers telling Which? it took them more than a month to get a refund.

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.”

Ryanair was also criticised for a lack of transparency about costs, and “treating passengers like cattle to be squeezed for the last penny.”

Three quarters (74%) of survey respondents said they would never fly with Ryanair. The budget 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.

Today also saw Ryanair lose a court battle over compensation for customers of cancelled flights during strike action in 2018.

BA was second from bottom in the Which? survey with a customer score of 63% – just behind TUI Airways, but with a much lower refund satisfaction score.

Passengers reported spending hours on hold only to be hung up on, or passed endlessly between different departments. This disappointing 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.

Jet2 was top of Which?’s table of UK airlines. Its record on delivering refunds was the best with more than eight in 10 (84%) respondents satisfied with the outcome when their flight was disrupted because of Covid.

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

“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.”

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