Covid: Ryanair and British Airways named the worst short-haul airlines for refunds during the pandemic

Ryanair customers gave the firm a satisfaction score of 47%

Ryanair has been ranked the worst short-haul airline for handling Covid refunds, with those who had a disrupted flight since 2020 giving the firm a satisfaction score of 47%.

The Which? study looked at customer satisfaction on airline refunds at the height of the pandemic, when the vast majority of flights were cancelled.

Under consumer law, affected passengers were entitled to cash refunds within 14 days but many airlines were overwhelmed with requests, with some customers not receiving their money for months.

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.”

How were other airlines ranked?

One in five respondents who had a cancelled Ryanair flight said it took them over three months to get a refund, with only 29% saying they were satisfied with the customer service they received.

British Airways was ranked the second lowest of five airlines for refund satisfaction, with a score of 63%.

Some passengers who telephoned the airline said they spent hours on hold to only be hung up on. Others reported being continuously passed between different departments.

Millions of passengers also struggled to obtain refunds for flights which went ahead, but they could not use legally because of lockdowns.

Jet2.com was ranked the best short-haul airline for refunds, with 84% satisfied with how their claim was dealt with.

One passenger said: “The pandemic has seen Jet2 shine. Its standard of customer care exceeds that of any other low-cost airline.”

How was the Which? survey carried out?

In October 2021, Which? surveyed 1,124 members of its online research panel who had experienced a disrupted flight since March 2020.

Of those who had completed the refund request process, 77 had booked to fly with Ryanair and 325 were British Airways customers.

Which? also surveyed 1,373 members of its panel about their experiences of flying in the past two years.

What have the airlines said?

Ryanair did not respond to a request for a comment on the research.

British Airways said in a statement: “We’re proud that we were the first UK airline to offer customers the flexibility to amend their plans at the beginning of the pandemic, by providing vouchers that they can use up to September 2023.

“If we cancel a flight we always contact customers to offer a range of options including a full refund. We’ve issued more than 4.2 million refunds and have dealt with more than 3.3 million voucher requests to date.

The airline added: “However, we know we can do better and we’re working hard behind the scenes, upgrading our phone systems and recruiting more people to deliver a better and faster customer experience that we know our customers deserve.

“We never take our customers’ loyalty for granted and appreciate their patience as our teams work around the clock to support them.”

What has Which? said about the study?

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, 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.

He added: “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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