British Airways has been accused of being the airline most likely to leave passengers disappointed when they complain about problems with delays and cancellations.
A survey by Which? collected details of more than 2,500 experiences from passengers who suffered delays and cancellations – finding out how they rated their airline’s immediate response and handling of any subsequent complaints or claims.
Travellers said there were no staff at all available to help them in 44% of cases – and even when airline employees could be found they were not helpful in one in five cases (20%).
Only one in four people (27%) told Which? they were satisfied overall by the way their grievance was handled when they complained about a delay, while six in ten (61%) were left disappointed.
The lowest level of satisfaction was recorded by BA passengers – only one in seven (15%) were satisfied with the outcome of their complaint, while three-quarters left dissatisfied, according to the consumer group.
This was higher than the number of disappointed travellers with budget carriers Ryanair (63%) and easyJet (49%).
But BA passengers affected by disruption were at least able to find a member of staff at the airport in (69%) seven in ten cases.
BA’s own data showed the “vast majority” of customer queries are resolved to satisfaction in one response.
Meanwhile, Which? found that Ryanair passengers were the least likely to be able to find a member of staff to assist them – six out of 10 (61%) passengers with the Irish carrier said they found themselves in this position.
The passengers most likely to be given assistance by staff in the event of a delay or cancellation were those who flew with Emirates (74%), Jet2 (73%) and Virgin Atlantic (73%).
Which? found that when airline staff were on hand to assist with inquiries, they were generally helpful – passengers said staff were helpful in 80% of cases overall.
This was the case for BA customers who reported helpful staff in four out of five (82%) occasions, but 18% said that the airline’s staff were not helpful.
Just over half (58%) of Ryanair customers who managed to find a member of staff said that they found them helpful, while two in five (42%) found them to be unhelpful.
Norwegian Air and Jet2 staff were rated as the most helpful overall (92%).
Which? Travel deputy editor Naomi Leach said: “Our research shows that it’s not just the usual suspects who are letting their customers down with poor customer service – even British Airways is falling well short in dealing with complaints when flights are delayed or cancelled.
“With the potential for widespread disruption to summer holiday travel plans in the coming weeks, airlines must ensure they have the staff and resources to deal sensitively with passengers hit by delayed or cancelled flights.”
BA said: “We continually review and improve our customer service performance, and always aim to provide our customers with a satisfactory and speedy response to their complaints.
“Our social media team respond to enquiries 24 hours a day, and together with our contact centres and customer relations teams, provide assistance to tens of thousands of customers every week.
“We’ve now made it even easier for customers to receive assistance by launching a dedicated page on our website at ba.com/helpme.”