Are BA and Ryanair that bad?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Once again, Which? has polled its readers and members of the Consumers Association to see what travellers think of airlines, their service and customer satisfaction.

An Aurigny TR 72-500 which carries 72 passengers. Image c. Aurigny Airlines

Once again the mainstream media has looked at the results and not queried the source of the information.

Instead it concentrated on how poorly British Airways a had performed saying that it rated badly for food, seat comfort and value for money. Ryanair performed slightly worse.

Some of the media did pick up on the fact that British Airways had queried the accuracy of the survey which is something that – in Just about Travel’s opinion – cannot be questioned. The Consumers Association has a number of very experienced and able market researchers and statisticians. Their finds were, no doubt, an accurate analysis of the survey results.

Ryanair has also criticised the survey in the past.

What the findings aren’t are a representative view of airline passengers at large which is something we have pointed out on many occasions yet still the mainstream press often fails to point this out.

image of a British Airways plane
Image c British Airways

Members of the Consumers Association are a biased sample. They are biased to what is erroneously referred to as the middle class, white and not so youthful. Without knowing what the profile of members look like I am unable to say how else the data is biased.

Readers, therefore, should not put too much reliability on the results.

That Aurigny Airlines, a small airline that links the UK and France to the Channel Islands came out at the top of the survey and Ryanair was last is like comparing chalk and cheese.

Aurigny has no plane that can carry more than 122 passengers (it has just one plane) and all the rest carry less than eighty. It carries less than 500,000 passengers per year on its nine or ten aircraft,

Ryanair, on the other hand, has 370 planes – the overwhelming number carrying over 180 passengers and it carries 142 million passengers per year. British Airways has just over 390 planes and carries 45 million passengers.

Ryanair plane ascending

Comparing these three companies is unfair to each as the way they function is entirely different. Just as the Airports Council International (ACI)   – which researches passenger satisfaction across over 150 airports worldwide – only compares airports of a similar size and purpose so should Which? follow this fairer way of comparing airlines.

Until then, readers should respect the results as being indicative of Which? readers but treat it as being biased in reflecting the passenger flying public as a whole.

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