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Updated: 13 Jan 2022

Best and worst airlines

Thousands of passengers rate their experience of Ryanair, British Airways, EasyJet, TUI, Jet2 and other popular airlines
Guy Hobbs
Singapore airlines 458693

Our latest survey of customer satisfaction and experiences of getting a refund with Ryanair, British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Tui and KLM, shows there are some carriers you shouldn't trust with your money. 

During travel's toughest years in 2020 and 2021 we were only able to conduct our airlines survey for the UK's biggest short-haul airlines. You can still find the results of our most recent survey of long-haul airlines below, but bear in mind they date from January 2020, before the pandemic began.

The pandemic brought out the worst customer service that the sector has ever seen. Not only were customers waiting for months for refunds that should have been with them in seven days, but they wasted hours of their lives battling big companies who simply stopped picking up the phone - many of them still aren't.

That's why our new short-haul airlines survey also assesses how well the biggest airlines dealt with refunding and amending flights that were disrupted by the pandemic. 

Sadly Covid continues to disrupt even the best-laid travel plans, so it's vital that you book with an airline you can trust to provide support, prompt refunds and flexible booking policies for flights in 2022 and beyond.

For more reviews, as well as exclusive investigations and expert advice, subscribe to Which? Travel.  

Best short-haul economy airlines

Which? Recommended ProviderAirlinePunctualityBoardingSeat comfortFood and drinkCabin cleanlinessCustomer serviceValue for moneyRefund satisfaction scoreCustomer score
YesJet281%
84%82%

KLM88%
-
-75%
 easyJet91%
65%70%
 Tui Airways79%
78%64%
 British Airways86%
63%63%
 Ryanair79%
47%55%

Using the table: Punctuality: Percentage of flights that arrived in to the UK within 15 minutes of time due, according to CAA data from October 2020 to September 2021; Boarding: The boarding process – waiting time, queues, etc.; Food and drink: Range and quality of on-board catering; Customer service: On-ground and on-board staff; Refund satisfaction score: Percentage of customers who were satisfied with what the airline offered in response to their disrupted flight - based on 1,124 member experiences since March 2020; Customer score: Combines overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the airline. All ratings for economy class travel. A dash indicates that there were too few responses for this aspect to give a star rating.

Sample sizes: Jet2.com (235), KLM (33), easyJet (455), Tui Airways (102), British Airways (263), (225). A dash (-) indicates we didn't receive enough responses to award a rating.

Short-haul airline reviews

Only one airline impressed us sufficiently with both its customer score and its refund score to be named Which? Recommended Provider for 2022. 

Jet2 was streets ahead of its competitors and the only airline to receive a four-star rating for its customer service and for value for money.

Jet2 review - Which? Recommended Provider

At a time when other airlines were making enemies of their own customers, Jet2 received its highest-ever customer score.

The key to its success is its refund record. A staggering 84% of people were satisfied with the outcome when their flight was disrupted by Covid, and throughout the pandemic, most passengers received a resolution in two weeks. Better still, nine in 10 customers told us they got a full refund, rather than having a voucher foisted upon them.

Even now when you book a flight, Jet2's flexibility policy is one of the best, allowing fee-free changes for most pandemic-related disruption, including lockdowns, quarantines and changing FCDO advice. No wonder one reader told us 'the pandemic has seen Jet2 shine. Its standard of customer care exceeds that of any other low-cost airline'.

Browse flights with Which? Recommended Provider Jet2

Should I book with EasyJet?

While it received a decent customer score of 70%, easyJet's refund satisfaction score was below that of rivals Jet2 and Tui. Customers reported spending hours on hold trying to get a refund, and being left with vouchers they couldn't use after disrupted flights. 

The airline also received a poor two-star rating for boarding, seat comfort and food and drink. And many of you were irritated by the airline's new hand luggage policy that has halved the allowance for standard-fare customers.

But easyJet does offer flexibility on new bookings. Those impacted by a travel ban or hotel quarantine can claim a refund even if flights still operate. And until 31 March 2022 there's no change fee if you amend a flight, for any reason, up to two hours before departure.

Should I book with British Airways?

At the start of the pandemic BA's phone lines were, understandably, overwhelmed. But our survey showed that customers affected by the schedule changes and cancellations that plagued 2021 were still experiencing problems. They reported spending hours on hold only to be hung up on, or passed endlessly between different departments.

This disappointing customer service, and the airlines' refusal to refund customers who could not travel due to lockdowns have really cemented BA's fall from grace. One reader described it as 'a budget style airline at premium prices'.

BA's redeeming feature is its flexible policy on new bookings. You can rebook, or cancel and request a voucher, for any reason right up until check-in. 

Should I book with Ryanair?

Even prior to the pandemic, Ryanair sat at the bottom of our table. Customers were unimpressed, but willing to forego frills for rock-bottom prices. But after two years of appalling customer service, many readers are angry. When we asked people 'is there an airline you would never fly with again?', three quarters named Ryanair.

First the airline made it hard to get refunds - 40% of you told us it took more than a month. Then it refused refunds for those who couldn't legally travel. And most recently it has scrapped its 'zero change-fees' policy altogether. All while being incredibly difficult to contact.

Best long-haul economy airlines

Because of recent travel restrictions, we've been unable to survey customer experiences of long-haul airlines. The results below were first published in January 2020 and reflect customer experiences before the pandemic.

AirlinePunctualitySeat comfortFood and drinkIn-flight entertainmentCabin environmentCustomer serviceValue for moneyCustomer Score
Singapore Airlines73%
88%
Qatar Airways80%
79%
Emirates79%
76%
Virgin Atlantic72%
72%
KLM83%
-
69%
Air Transat62%
68%
Thai Airways60%
-
--68%

Using the table: Punctuality: Percentage of flights that arrived in to the UK within 15 minutes of time due, according to CAA data from Aug 2018 to July 2019; Food and drink: Range and quality of on-board catering; Customer service: On-ground and on-board staff; Customer score: Combines overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the airline. All ratings for economy class travel. A dash indicates that there were too few responses for this aspect to give a star rating.

Sample sizes: Singapore Airlines (77), Emirates (213),Qatar Airways (47), Cathay Pacific (45), KLM (38), Norwegian (44), Virgin Atlantic (202), Etihad Airways (44), Air Transat (40), Qantas (37), Air Canada (81), Delta Airlines (49), British Airways (309), Thomas Cook Airlines (41), Thomson/Tui Airways (68), United Airlines (43), American Airlines (69). Short-haul airline sample sizes: Aurigny Air Services (42), Swiss (58), Jet2.com (1,020), Norwegian (185), KLM (150), Air Malta (40), SAS Scandinavian Airlines (57), Aer Lingus (127), Lufthansa (104), Flybe (574), easyJet (2,099), Eurowings (55), TAP Portugal (94), Thomson/Tui Airways (604, British Airways (1,023), Vueling Airlines (75), Wizz Air (69), Thomas Cook Airlines (301), Ryanair (1,161).


What makes an airline a Which? Recommended Provider?

In October 2021 we asked 1,373 members of Which? Connect about their experiences of flying short-haul in the past two years. Their customer score was based on a combination of overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the airline to a friend. Only airlines rated by at least 30 members are included.

Which? Recommended Providers are those that you gave a customer score of at least 70%, but that's not all. Our researchers then scrutinise each company and its policies to make sure the company is worthy of a WRP. Refund satisfaction scores from the start of the pandemic (March 2020) to October 2021 were also taken into account.

We have not awarded long-haul airline WRPs for 2022.