The best and worst airlines for 2024 named by Which? – Jet2 is No.1 for third time and BA


British Airways was once so confident of its reputation, it used ‘the world’s favourite airline’ in its advertising campaigns.

But the UK’s flag-carrier has been voted among the worst airlines for both long and short haul travel.

Consumer champion Which? surveyed travellers’ experiences of flying in the past year and analysed results from over 10,000 flights.

Once among the country’s leading airlines, BA came in the bottom five for short haul flights – below a number of low-cost carriers including easyJet, and in the bottom three for long haul.

Punctuality and cancellations were a particular issue, with 3.3 per cent of its flights cancelled at short notice, according to CAA data.

Consumer champion Which? surveyed travellers¿ experiences of flying in the past year and analysed results from over 10,000 flights

Consumer champion Which? surveyed travellers’ experiences of flying in the past year and analysed results from over 10,000 flights 

From 1983 to 2001, BA based its advertising around its claim that it was the ‘world’s favourite airline’. However, it has since fallen out of favour.

Aviation expert Alex McWhirter told The Mail: ‘BA has had to cut back on standards in order to compete with low-cost carriers. If it wants to go back to the good old days of food and drink service on board it will have to increase prices but customers won’t pay those prices.

‘Because of the image cultivated over the years, people expect more from a national carrier like BA, but these days they’re disappointed.’

The airline suffered a major IT failure in May 2017 and again in March 2022, causing dozens of flights to be grounded.

At the time, BA’s chief executive Sean Doyle apologised to staff, saying: ‘Many of our customers are rightly fed up. I know you’re also fed up and I’m as frustrated as you are with some of the things we’ve had to deal with.’

In the Which? survey, passengers rated airlines on seven criteria, including customer service, value for money, seat comfort and food and drink. A customer score was calculated based on overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.

Once among the country¿s leading airlines, BA came in the bottom five for short haul flights - below a number of low-cost carriers including easyJet, and in the bottom three for long haul

Once among the country’s leading airlines, BA came in the bottom five for short haul flights – below a number of low-cost carriers including easyJet, and in the bottom three for long haul

Wizz Air finished bottom, marking its second consecutive year at the bottom of the survey, with customers complaining about delays and poor customer service.

Alarmingly, almost half (46 per cent) of those surveyed who flew with Wizz Air reported issues with their flight, with delays a particularly common issue.

According to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, 63 per cent of the airline’s flights were on time in the last year. Around 2 per cent of its flights were delayed by over three hours – higher than most of its rivals.

The Hungarian airline received low star ratings across the board, scoring just one star out of a possible five for customer service.

Wizz Air finished bottom, marking its second consecutive year at the bottom of the survey, with customers complaining about delays and poor customer service

Wizz Air finished bottom, marking its second consecutive year at the bottom of the survey, with customers complaining about delays and poor customer service

One respondent reported it was ‘impossible to communicate with the airline’ about their flight cancellation, while another said that Wizz Air was ‘extremely unhelpful and unresponsive’ when they needed assistance.

Close behind Wizz Air was Ryanair.

The Irish airline scored just one star for seat comfort, food and drink and customer service. In the latter category, respondents were particularly critical, with one passenger saying the airline ‘treats customers with disdain’.

Jet2, meanwhile, took first spot among short haul airlines for the third consecutive year. The airline topped the table with an impressive customer score of 81 per cent, and received a full five stars for its customer service.

Its passengers reported a largely hassle-free flying experience, with 80 per cent of respondents who flew with Jet2 reporting no problems. Of those who experienced a hold up to their flight, 84 per cent reported that staff were helpful during the delay.

Jet2 took first spot among short haul airlines for the third consecutive year. The airline topped the table with an impressive customer score of 81 per cent, and received a full five stars for its customer service

Jet2 took first spot among short haul airlines for the third consecutive year. The airline topped the table with an impressive customer score of 81 per cent, and received a full five stars for its customer service

Jet2 also has among the lowest rate of last-minute cancellations of any airlines in the survey, with just 0.5 per cent cancelled at short notice, according to CAA data.

In joint second for short haul flights, with a customer score of 74 per cent, was Norwegian and Icelandair. The carriers climbed an impressive four and five places respectively from last year. 

Which?’s latest airlines survey comes as fares hit record highs in the last year and many airlines posted substantial profits following the challenges of the pandemic.

According to the Office for National Statistics, average UK airfares were as much as £713 last summer – and for these prices, customers should be seeing excellent service across the board.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Air fares have soared in recent years, and the bare minimum passengers should expect in return for their hard-earned cash is a reliable service, with friendly, easy to access customer support when they are let down.

In joint second for short haul flights, with a customer score of 74 per cent, was Norwegian (pictured) and Icelandair

In joint second for short haul flights, with a customer score of 74 per cent, was Norwegian (pictured) and Icelandair

Icelandair (pictured) climbed an impressive five places from last year's ranking

Icelandair (pictured) climbed an impressive five places from last year’s ranking

‘While the likes of Jet2 continue to excel in this regard, our survey shows that passengers of many airlines are sadly being shortchanged – with high rates of last minute cancellations, abysmal customer service and sneaky extra fees for luggage hiking up the final price.’

A Wizz Air spokesperson said: ‘We do not consider the findings of this report to be representative or an accurate reflection of our performance today, which is among the strongest in Europe.

‘We have been honest about our performance in summer 2022, which was not up to our standards.

‘We have invested more than £90 million to rectify this and have made significant improvements which the results of this survey fail to recognise, but are evident from independent data, as well as our own.’

A spokesperson for British Airways said: ‘We always work hard to get our customers to where they need to be on time.

‘Like all airlines though, over the last year we’ve experienced several factors outside of our control that have had an adverse impact on our customers, such as adverse weather and Air Traffic Control industrial action.

‘We apologise to customers for any disruption they’ve faced.’

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: ‘Ryanair has industry leading punctuality with avg. on-time performance of 87 per cent in 2023, despite UK punctuality being severely impacted by the inefficient NATS and its incompetent CEO, whose ATC system has collapsed twice this year delaying thousands of flights and millions of passengers travelling to/from the UK.’



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