- Which? survey asked members for views on long and short haul flights
- Aurigny Air Services in Guernsey takes top spot
- British Airways left in sixth for short haul service as Ryanair is rated worst
A little known airline has topped a poll of the world’s best carriers, leaving British Airways grounded in sixth place.
Aurigny Air Services on Guernsey flies passengers between the Channel Islands, the UK and France and many of the planes are so small that passengers can chat with the pilot and make do without cabin crew.
Ryanair was rated the worst short haul airline, according to the Which? survey which asked 8,264 members to list the carriers they had flown with over the past year and say how satisfied they were with them and whether they would recommend them to a friend.
Most people (87%) who had flown with Aurigny said they were satisfied with the service and would recommend it to a friend, compared with just under a third (32%) for Ryanair and two thirds for BA (69%), which shared the sixth position for short haul carriers with Air Malta.
When the Mail on Sunday broke the news to Aurigny’s spokesman that it had been rated the world’s best airline by customers, she was taken by surprise but delighted.
‘Most people have not heard of us,’ said Mel Rees. ‘That’s great news.’
Millions of Britons know what it is like to start a holiday or business trip flying ‘cattle-class’.
But Agnes Perry, 48, who lives on Guernsey with her husband Colin, 58, described what it is like flying with Aurigny. They made it sound like air travel from a bygone era.
Mrs Perry, a translator, said: ‘If it’s a short flight, you do not get any food. The planes are so small there’s no central alleyway and there’s enough room for two people to be side by side and one pilot.
‘You can see the pilot – there’s no separate cockpit -and you can talk to him and he talks to you. He tells you to sit back and makes sure you have your seatbelt on. There’s no room for cabin crew.’
‘The pilot has a little joke with you,’ said businessman Mr Perry. ‘He might say “Hello Colin, I haven’t seen you at the club.”
‘It all feels very much like going on a joy trip but it’s very efficient. The pilots are well trained.
‘When you walk out on to the tarmac, there is just one step to get on to the plane – like one you’d use to get into the kichen cupboard. But it’s easier for people in wheelchairs. There’s a human touch.
‘I brought back a large picture from France once and I did not get charged extra for it.’
Which? rated short haul and long haul flight experiences separately and also asked those polled to give each carrier they had used a star rating in terms of flight experience including food offered, in-flight entertainment, boarding experience and comfort.
Thomas Cook Airlines came second from bottom for long haul and short haul flights with just over a third of people (37%) liking or willing to recommend the carrier.
It got the lowest ratings for comfort and legroom for both its short haul and long haul flights.
Short haul carrier Ryanair got the lowest customer rating for luggage allowances, boarding experience, legroom and food and drink.
Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines were the most popular long haul carriers, each scoring 87 per cent customer satisfaction overall. Iberia was voted the least popular long haul airline with fewer than a third (28%) saying they were satsified with or would recommend the service.
Larger carriers who were beaten in the poll pointed out that just 30 people had given their opinions on Aurigny, compared with hundreds for the other carriers. The airline, founded in 1968 and owned by the Guernsey government, rarely features in polls as comparatively few people have used it.
Malcolm Couper, the carrier’s commercial director. said: ‘To sit above some of the most famous names in the airline industry is an achievement for which we are very proud.
‘We try very hard to make the passenger experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible’.
British Airways said in a statement: ‘British Airways was recently named as the top short-haul airline by readers of the Daliy Telegraph and by Conde Nast Traveller. Our long-haul service consistently receives plaudits.’
Christopher Debus, chief executive of Thomas Cook Airlines UK said: ‘The Which? airline satisfaction survey results are in stark contrast to the high levels of satisfaction our customers tell us about.’