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Unhappy reading for BA as ‘Which?’ releases its 2013 airline survey

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I’ve got hold of a copy of ‘Which?’ magazines 2013 airline quality survey, which does not make incredibly happy reading for British Airways. It looked at both short haul and long haul services from the UK.

which magazine survey

Short Haul

‘Which?’ has a big subscriber base, which allowed it to attract 5,600 flight reviews from its readers panel. Each flight was rated in terms of baggage allowance, boarding arrangements, cabin environment, airline staff and value for money. (You may ask yourself how well people can remember some of these factors, given that many will be reporting on flights taken a few months before they filled in the survey.)

Amusingly, the highest-rated European airline was Swiss, which scored an 82% overall rating. I say ‘Amusingly’ because – despite beating Turkish Airlines by 4% – ‘Which?’ refused to give it a ‘Recommended Provider’ award because of their £4.50 credit charge surcharge! I agree that £4.50 is often disproportionate, but since ‘Which?’ readers were still happy to vote for the airline it seems odd not to give it the prize!


British Airways limps in 6th, at 67%, tied with KLM. It sits behind Aer Lingus (?) and Lufthansa as well as the top two.

Ironically, BA only scores badly on ‘value for money’. It gets full marks for baggage allowance and 4/5 for the other key factors.

Jet2, interestingly, is the highest rated budget carrier at 61%.

Long Haul

This is a more worrying result for BA. Based on 3,430 trip reports, British Airways only manages to limp into 12th place at 65%. Virgin Atlantic does not do much better, coming in one place higher with 69%.

BA falls down again on ‘value for money’ and, unlike short haul, ‘cabin environment’.

(It seems a little odd to mark down BA for ‘value for money’, given that the respondents would have had a choice of airline when they flew. Did they choose BA even though other airlines were cheaper? If BA was the cheapest option, how can it not offer ‘value for money’?)

The winner was Air New Zealand with 86%, followed by Etihad, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, all of whom scored above 80%.

What is interesting here – as we are talking about economy travel – is that some of the airlines that beat British Airways have more high density seating in economy, especially on their newest aircraft. This does not yet seem to have fed back into decreased rankings, however.

Comments (19)

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  • Roger says:

    Paul’s comment anticipated mine:
    Some respondents will be disaffected Avios collectors who having spent years collecting( without the benefit of forums and blogs such as this one) will then have discovered the fees and taxes rip off which in some circumstances mean it would be cheaper to simply buy a ticket.

    Part of the problem is British taxes, but BA adds its own fees, seriously devaluing the value of its miles.

    • John says:

      I don’t know if BA / Airmiles’ marketing was particularly good, but I can’t understand why anyone would spend 4 years collecting Avios for one long haul redemption instead of using clubcard exchanges to reduce their grocery shopping costs and then buying a ticket on easyJet.

  • callum says:

    There’s no way I’d trust the judgment of a load of which readers! In fact, I’d go as far as to say this survey is completely useless. I doubt there is any consistency at all in what they deem good between airlines.

  • flyforfun says:

    As a long time Which? member, I take their results like this with a pinch of salt. When Saga came out as a top provider recently, and also some obscure, but expensive travel agency, you know the demographics of the membership is likely to be upper middle class and also probably in the 50+ age bracket.

    Interestingly, in the October Which? magazine that I got yesterday, there is a major piece on customer service. BA came joint 20th – along with charter firm Thomson, Virgin joint 51st, Flybe and Thomas Cook at joint 56, Easyjet joint 68th, and Ryanair the only one at the bottom at 100. No mention of Monarch or Jet2 or other airlines in top 100. So does that mean Ryanair is better than those that didn’t list? So how does it rate in the survey Raffles mentions?

    In the blurb as “top airline” it say BA gets 4 stars for communication, and 3 stars for the rest of it’s service. How does Air NZ rate for service? Not mentioned so far, but it’s no good to me as I’m never likely to fly to NZ. I may consider their LAX service, but I’ve got two oneworld partners that fly there and earn me points. (no current star alliance points).

    It would make more sense to see “best airline to” categories, ie best to Australia, New York, South America, etc so that you can judge what’s relevant. I’d rather some element of any survey like this took into account the hard product first form an independent assessment and then added an element of customer satisfaction from travelling passengers.

  • Al says:

    > If BA was the cheapest option, how can it not offer ‘value for money’?
    I can sell you two cars. One is a crash damaged 1997 Ford Mondeo for £15,000. The other is a brand new Bugatti Veyron for £16,000. One of these offers excellent value for money whilst the other offers incredibly poor value for money. I’ll give you a hint … the cheapest option does not offer ‘value for money’.

  • creampuff says:

    Just as a headsup for anybody that has (a) travelled business class in Europe and (b) never travelled business class in the rest of the world, the European business class is a hopeless joke – as the seats are the same economy class seats as in the back of the plane, just with the middle seat blocked out.

    If you travel regional business class (ie short haul) in the real world, the seats are about what you would expect in longhaul premium economy or maybe a bit better.

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