Ryanair has been voted the worst short-haul airline by consumer group Which? for the sixth year in a row. The airline was rated among others in regards to boarding times, experience, food and drink etc. A number of larger factors also shaped the public opinion of the airline this year including changing baggage policies and a refusal to refund money to passengers affected by industrial action.

Not averse to bad publicity an airline spokesperson said that the survey was ‘unrepresentative and worthless’.

Europes largest passenger carrier was among 19 other airlines and came out last. Guernsey-based Aurigny Air Service was the highest ranked in the survey.

70% of respondents said that they would not fly with the airline again. It is doubtful this will impact the projected forecast of over 140 million customers expected the fly with Ryanair in 2019. The airline which has faced criticism for an array of issues is still great value for many passengers, especially those seeking a cheap getaway during the year.

A refusal to provide refunds and an ever-changing baggage policy has definitely impacted public opinion this year.

2018 Baggage policy changes and costs

The original baggage policy in early 2017 meant that customers were allowed to bring one small carry-on bag and a second larger wheelie bag could be brought to the gate. However, unless you bought a priority pass the larger bag would then be tagged and placed in the undercarriage hold. The result was delayed takeoff as the extra bags were loaded onto planes. Thus this idea had to be scrapped.

On the 1st of November, the new policy of only allowing 2 bags when priority is purchased came into effect. This meant that those with a wheelie bag would have to check the bag at the Ryanair check-in desk.

These changes which incur additional costs were also a headache throughout the year due to uncertainty amongst passengers.

Almost 30% of Ryanair’s profits for 2018 stemmed from additional charges to passengers ranging from seat selection to oversized baggage. The added stress of trying to avoid these charges is something that passengers voiced their opinion on.

Costs incurred by some customers include  £40 charges for assigned seating and paying almost double for bags of 20kgs and over, reported Refinery 29. Many of these charges arise at the airport when passengers have no choice but to pay for convenience purposes.

Punctuality

Punctuality was also down from 76% to 68% with many respondents to the survey highlighting delayed flights and boarding times noted the Which? survey. Yet another once popular marketing ploy showing the airline difficulties.

Refunds

Strike action by pilots and crew in 2018 results in thousands of passengers seeking compensation, something the airline has refused to do at the moment. A move that is potentially illegal.

Affect on Customers

Rory Boland, the Which? travel editor said: “Airfares might seem to be getting cheaper, but only if you don’t fancy sitting with your family and children or taking even a small cabin bag on board. Increasingly you need a calculator to work out what the final bill will be, especially with Ryanair reported the Guardian.

Other Airlines

The top three airlines for those considering the competition are Aurigny Air Service,  Swiss and Jet2 customer satisfaction rating reported The Guardian. Even with this Ryanair beats the competition by almost $10 when it comes to certain flights as seen in The Guardian.

British Airways and EasyJet as the two UK based airlines also struggle finishing in at 15th and 11th place respectively.

Wizz air and Thomas cook airlines also have the distinction of being in the bottom three airlines looked at in the survey.

Affect on Ryanair

Will this survey affect Ryanair, very unlikely. The Airline is known to cause controversy, especially among its chief Michael O’Leary. Publicity is something which the airline seems to be able to manage should it be good or bad, however recent action by the CAA may force it to change its way in the upcoming year.

Ryanair seemed unfazed by the survey and as it is the 6th year in a row it is probably something they expect, especially with the year that they have had.

Cheap fairs, continuing growth in destinations and the opportunity to provide fast and somewhat efficient service will outweigh any negative press generated towards the company.

As one spokesperson said the opinion of eight thousand out of a customer base of over 140 million will not deter customers.

In the long term, a negative survey will not affect Ryanair’s customer base and they most likely will ignore any recommendations form the customer survey as they have tended to do things there own way.