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Airlines vote results

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Rob Unsworth - editor | 19:03 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

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We wanted to find out exactly what you think about the airlines you travel with, so last month we asked you to take part in our online vote on the airline industry. The results flew in with nearly 25,000 of you taking part. We sent your answers to market research people ComRes for analysis and here are the results.

We discovered that our viewers are a loyal bunch with 70 per cent of respondents telling us that they'll usually try and fly with a particular airline. However, our results showed that your flights aren't always plane (sic) sailing. More than a third of our voters told us that they'd experienced such extreme problems when flying that it would put them off flying with that airline ever again.

Price sensitive
It may not be surprising in the current economic climate, but 38 per cent of respondents said that price was the single most important factor when choosing an airline. We spoke to Simon Calder, The Independent's travel editor, who told us: "We're very, very price sensitive, partly because the economy is getting tougher and partly because, ultimately, it's not the flying experience that counts, it's what you do when you get there."

We asked our voters to tell us, of all the airlines they'd flown with, who their favourites were. Given the importance of price to our respondents the results were surprising. Two airlines accounted for a third of all votes and neither is considered to be at the budget end of the airline spectrum. Virgin Atlantic came second with 15 per cent of our vote, but over a thousand votes ahead - with 19 per cent of respondents listing them as their favourite airline - is British Airways. Almost half of the people that voted for BA chose them for their customer service and on-board facilities.

But it isn't all good news for BA. We also asked our voters which airlines they'd never travel with again and coming in second - with 9 per cent of the vote - was British Airways again. However, there was clear air between BA and our voters' least favourite airline; Ryanair who won the unwelcome accolade of being the airline you voted you'd never want to travel with again, with more than double BA's votes.

Get what you pay for
So why did our voters name Ryanair the airline they'd never fly with again? The 38 per cent of people who didn't like them blamed the on-board comfort and facilities. Another 14 per cent said the airline's customer service let it down. But are we asking too much of Europe's largest budget airline? Simon Calder believes that you get what you pay for: "If you're paying less to fly somewhere than it costs you to park at the airport, well guess what? You're not going to get Champagne all the way."

Company statements
BA told us that it is proud of its global reputation for customer service and frequently conducts it own research to find out what its customers think. It claims that it has significantly improved their punctuality and the numbers of delayed baggage returns and that it is seeing this reflected in their customers' satisfaction. The company urge any customers who have been disappointed with their services in the past to fly with them again and see the difference.

Read the full analysis from ComRes and watch our films on BA and Ryanair.


  • Comment number 1.

    I wish the BBC would show more consistency.

    Tonight's Watchdog episode tells us of Ryanair's £8 flights to the US. When the Breakfast show interviewed that O'Leary chap, he catagorically denied that this was on the cards.

    Poor research = poor programming

  • Comment number 2.

    I often travel with Ryanair as my mother lives in SW France. I always sit at the front of the plane to get on and off quickly and also because the aircrew are so endlessly entertaining!! I have seen all manner of things but one of my favourites was when we arrived at our detination and the head of the cabin crew asked me where we had arrived before she went on the tannoy to welcome the passengers to our destination. I told her we were at Bergerac in France and she replied she didn't think it had looked like Ireland.

  • Comment number 3.

    I flew with Ryanair often when I was working in Italy. They were my lifeline back to the UK. What do people want from airlines? Why do people think that airlines should provide a greater level of service than, perhaps, a coach trip that might last much longer? Yes, I was delayed once or twice, but considering the number of flights I took, it's not that bad. Always found the staff friendly. Good service, great news is they can go trans-continental.

  • Comment number 4.

    I've just read your Airline report and analysis - excellent
    Well done Watchdog

  • Comment number 5.

    Re: Watchdog airlines. I was one of the 9% who said they would never use BA again. I told them this when I wrote to them with my complaint. They apologised for their mistakes and sent me a £50 voucher "towards your next BA flight". Need I say more?

  • Comment number 6.

    As often seems to happen with Watchdog, this so called survey misses so many points crucial to the outcome.

    It seems to me startlingly obvious that somebody who flys more than four times a year is likely to be doing so on business. If this is the case it is highly likely that the individual isn't paying for the flight. If they aren't paying for it themselves then they are much more likely to be flying with a non budget airline, so of course they would want the most luxury they could get for free. Somebody who is paying for their own flight is unlikely to spend 3 to 6 times more for their flight just because they get an allocated seat, drinks, a meal, a newspaper for example.

    So in my opinion your survey is useless to all the airlines because it didn't ask the right questions. Almost every airline could take comfort from or despair at their results depending on the interpretation they put onto it.

    Next time give the whole survey to professionals from the start.

    Now let me think, would I prefer a basic Ford Fiesta or a Jaguar XF? Perhaps Watchdog can get their viewers to inform me which they think is best!

  • Comment number 7.

    One of the points raised in the programme was that one of the favourite hates are supplements/hidden charges. With the recent oil price falls to under $60/ barrel, isn't it about time that the airlines (i.e. BA) were called to book for continuing the blatant profiteering that is fuel supplements?

  • Comment number 8.

    I owe Ryanair a HUGE Thankyou.
    On my pension, I can painlessly travel from Ireland to my grandchildren in England, for birthdays, school plays, school games, family get togethers and days out.
    When I worked in England years ago, I struggled for a whole year to afford the fare to bring my children to see their grandparents in Ireland
    Ryanair - Thankyou a million times over.

  • Comment number 9.

    OK - regarding Ryanair. I used to use them quite frequently but not anymore.
    A) left in Venice without any rep, no info just flight delayed / cancelled for 20 hrs. No compensation whatsoever. Try to call on their helplines – joke!
    B) They are “always” on time, only as they say that flight which takes other airlines 1 hr takes them 2.5 hrs
    C) Cramped seats, no space, no legroom (OK on short flights), horrible seats, overpriced food/drink (no need to buy, OK)
    D) Not cheap anymore. They charge you for everything – booked 2 returned flights and was charger 4x£4 for booking via card – 2 people 2 flights there and back – why as it’s paid in 1 transaction??? 50% of passengers do have priority boarding so everyone is rushed in like cattle. No priority for mothers with kids (need to buy priority boarding!)
    E) No charges for hand luggage but to have one 15kg bag (and therefore airport check-in) costs you £24!

    And I can go on and on. So Ryanair never ever again!

  • Comment number 10.

    Ryanair - I can understand the negative Daily Mail readers responding to the survey and saying they will never use them again. However just look at Ryanair's load factors, those few are by far in the minority. I am no fan of farmer O'leary but you know what you get from him and his airline and generally it is a good deal. Most customers are already aware of the service level, before they purchase their ticket. By the same token many pasengers choose to fly long distance in economy rather than business class, the discomfort being relative to what they pay. I have to agree on their lack of boarding policy for mothers/children - it would be much better for them to be seated and in place before the mad scramble begins, but why the mad scramble by the rest ? It is not as if they are going to be left behind. If it keeps the Daily Mail readers away, keep on scrambling.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes Ryanair certainly know how to slap on the charges.
    Booked my mother and 20 month old neice a flight tonight.
    My mothers flight was free (brilliant I thought), obviously taxes on top and weirdly whilst my mother'f flight was free there and back my neices was not but cost 20 euro out, 20 euro back. It is not like a 2 year old will be taking up an extra seat and they don't get priority boarding and i have watched and they don't even help you on board. I guess the use of the baby seat belt is what cost 20 euro. They are only over 2 days so my mother was not going to bring a bag not check in but because there was a todler on board she had to pay to check in a bag that she won't even have - 30 euro!!! Then as she is 70 and my neice 20 months she kinda wanted priority boarding +8 euro. Then after we agreed to pay they slapped on another 10 euro for debit card fee. Anyway a 'free' return flight hss worked out at £159 euro. I agree not at all bad for flying somewhere but definately not free!!

  • Comment number 12.

    A quickie about Ryanair before my main point: needed a flight for my student daughter to Pau, only Ryanair fly direct from the UK. It's a year abroad, so can only get a one way ticket. My wife accompanied but needed a return. Booking system couldn't do it: booked 2 singles out in GBP, and 1 single back in EURO. Flights were "free". But, with 10Kg excess baggage=£120 (2x20Kg bags for a year abroad), debit-card fee, check-in fee, bag fee, and taxes/fees/charges, it was not exactly "free."

    My main point: there seems a fundamental flaw in the analysis of the airline survey. The results need to be weighted by airline market sector to be meaningful. It is obvious that BA will get high votes for most favourite and for most hated because BA fly more passengers than many other airlines in the UK. Market share should be a factor in the statistical analysis. Here's a simplified example. 4 airlines A, B, C, D have market shares of 10%, 20%, 30% and 40% respectively. So a 1000 passenger survey would be for 100, 200, 300, 400 flights respectively. If passengers' favourite airline was A(35%), B(30%), C(20%), D(15%), the results would be A(35 passengers), B(50 passengers), C(60 passengers), D(60 passengers). Without weighting the results by market share, it appears that airlines C and D are most favourite, whereas in fact they are the least favourite. Will you tell BA the bad/good news or shall I?

  • Comment number 13.

    I fly to the US about four times a year and to Europe every few weeks and the one airline I will not use is BA. I have travelled business class but finding the staff no more polite than they are in the economy, I now fly economy and spend the difference on something else.
    In any event, anyone who pays a thousand pounds simply to eat off a plate, has more money than sense!

  • Comment number 14.

    Forgive my naivety, but if BA won 20% of the favoured votes, how is that a majority win when 80% did not vote for them?


    The only thing that this statistic proves is that the majority, or minority, of 20% of the votes were gained my one airline. It's still a substantial minority and cannot by any means conclude that BA are the the favoured airline.

    Statistics are stupid things.

  • Comment number 15.

    On Wednesday 6 November 2008, my friend and I were passengers on the East Midlands to Paris Beauvais flight, which due to the weather conditions in the Paris area, was diverted to Brussels Charleroi airport. We have flown with Ryanair on many occasions in the past without mishap but having previously heard various ‘horror’ stories of Ryanair passengers being left stranded we were concerned. However, this was not the case. The cabin staff informed us that coaches were being laid on to transfer us back to Beauvais. Though the transfer onto the coaches was not as smoothed as we would have liked, (we seemed to be hanging around for ages waiting for their arrival and we were unsure as to where our boarding point was supposed to be etc.), they did eventually arrived and carried us from Brussels to Paris. I think in this instance, Ryanair definitely provided a great level of service and I will without a doubt, be booking flights with them again in the future.

  • Comment number 16.

    The only thing missing from low cost airline travel is a seat No. The low cost carriers do everything other airlines do except allocate you with a seat No. I see no cost saving, or time saved checking in, using this practice. I have flown with both Easyjet and Ryanair and their flights are good value for money. However, it is the scrum on boarding, particularly with Ryanair, that makes me check with other carriers before booking.Both Eastjet and Ryanair offer "preferential boarding schemes" for an additional charge. I was in Bergamo last year using Ryanair when around 20 people had paid extra to board the aircraft first, and guess what, they travelled out to the aircraft in the same coach as we did. They paid to get on a coach first. And you know the rules of the airport coach, first on last off.As the saying goes "They were not best pleased"

  • Comment number 17.

    I have been flying with Ryanair for several years and only a few times I have had problems with them.
    I was 3 minutes late for checking in before it closed and they did not allow me to check in and I had to wait for the evening flight so I missed a whole day and had to pay full fare all because of traffic, the customer service I received was appalling.
    Another time I booked a flight online and was not able to check in only 1 bag so I had to check in 2 bags a a price.
    The last time I used Ryanair and I mean it really is the last time I use them; I booked online and thinking I paid for 2 bags to be checked in as the last time it didn't let me have 1 i thought the 2 went through. We arrived at Eindhoven and was asked to pay for the second bag 20 euros, the woman at CS did not inform us that it was only one way, returned to Standstead after having a really nice weekend in London went to check in and had to pay another 16 pounds. Went to the CS ticket sales, received no apology they just said so you didn't pay for you bag? I said we did but was not told it was for only one way. I paid 20 euros for a return trip and now had to pay 40 euros there and back for my partners check in bag.
    Disgracefull! I received no apology nothing I was fuming! I AM NOT GOING TO USE RYANAIR ANYMORE AND WILL ADVISE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO USE ANOTHER AIRLINE. Never had this problem with easyjet.

  • Comment number 18.

    my brother and i flew back from nashville with delta airline we missed the flight they were unhelpful and rude we had 2 pay £12002 get home and we were wih another party of 2 they were offered free hotel overnight and free flight home they were in their 70s but ive complained 2 delta heard nothing yet so i now fly with virgin

  • Comment number 19.

    Forget the comfort (or lack of it), the overpriced rubbish offered as food and the loud advertising that goes on all through the flight. What really did it for me was booking four tickets and getting charged FOUR lots of debit card transaction fees of £9.50!!! That added £38 to my travel costs, when there was only ONE transaction, not four!! Consumer direct says "that is legal if they tell you that before you click the buy button". ???!!! Who is mad here? It's like having a three course dinner and getting charged credit card fees for each course!!! Whether they tell you in advance (and nobody else flies to Trieste from London) or not, there was ONE TRANSACTION only, charged four times.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ryanair - only one word for them - Con-air.
    Advertise cheap flights but by time you add on all the extras they are no cheaper generally.
    Checking in bags more expensive,airport taxes more expensive, food/drinks more expensive and now £9.50 to use a debit card for booking flight - rip off.
    Easyjet only £1.95 to use debit card.
    As debit card automatic payment why the charge - train companies don't charge or ferry companies so why the difference with airlines?

  • Comment number 21.

    I had a bad experience with Thomas Cook last year, when I booked on line. Although I know I typed in the correct details on the drop down menu, they were wrong when I received the tickets. I got charged an extra £100 (yes£100!)to get them corrected. I wrote to customer service who refused to give me my money back. So beware the drop down menu can default to something you did not intend.

  • Comment number 22.

    HI! I have just come across your piece on airlines and would like to share my partners and my experience with BA.I booked two return tickets to New York in October of last year on t`internet as a surprise for my partners 30th birthday in January of this year. When we arrived at Gatwick airport we checked in with BA only to discover that we were seated apart. When i explained this at baggage check in i was told there was nothing they could do so i suggested an "upgrade"and was told that two upgraded seats would cost me a further £420!! My partner was so upset i felt i had no option so i duly paid the extra!We noticed that other passengers were experiencing the same problem! When we boarded the plane we noticed that the cabin staff were swapping peoples seats to accomodate those that had been given sperate seating!!We were told there was nothing that they could do but obviously there was!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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