Aer Lingus flies high over rival Ryanair, say passengers
IT was a tale of two airlines as Aer Lingus came near the top of the class and Ryanair near the bottom in a passenger survey.
The findings were based on a poll of over 5,700 passengers who rated the last airline they had used based on their cabin staff, cleanliness, seating arrangements, legroom, baggage allowances, handling of delays and value for money.
The survey by 'Which? Holiday' magazine rated Aer Lingus second, whereas Ryanair came second-last among short-haul carriers.
Aer Lingus got an overall satisfaction rating of 71pc, just behind winners Swiss at 72pc, and well ahead of big name rivals such as KLM, Lufthansa, BMI and British Airways. Air Malta was the third-favourite with passengers.
However, Ryanair's satisfaction rating came in at just 42pc, ahead of worst-rated Thomas Cook Airlines at 37pc, and below 16 other short-haul airlines.
Ryanair polled particularly badly when it came to cabin staff, cleanliness, seating arrangements, leg room and baggage allowance.
Even on value they did not score very highly, and 'Which?' found that the budget airline was not always the cheapest.
This was particularly true when the magazine looked at prices for a family of four travelling with checked-in baggage, where Easyjet was sometimes cheaper.
However, for sample flights from Scotland to Ireland, Ryanair was significantly cheaper than Aer Lingus, and 'Which?' said that no-frills airlines also came out much cheaper than 'full service airlines' if passengers only brought hand baggage.
Air New Zealand was the top-rated long-haul airline, followed by Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Thai International Airways and Cathay Pacific.
South African Airways, United Airlines and Thomas Cook Airlines had the worst ratings among the long-haul airlines.
'Which?' said that flying with a good quality carrier could really make a difference to a holiday.
"Our rigorous research shows that while the cost of flights is important to customers, it's things like friendly cabin staff and reasonable luggage allowances that leave a lasting impressions, said 'Which? Holiday' head of research Rochelle Turner.
But Ryanair dismissed the results of the survey.
Spokesman Stephen McNamara said: "The 'Which?' survey reflects the opinions of 5,700 people who like to complain, whereas Ryanair is the choice of 73 million people who like good value, cheap fares, the least lost baggage and best punctuality of Europe's leading airline," he said.
"The reality is, if people weren't flying with us because of something we would change it."
Aer Lingus, meanwhile, welcomed the results. "This is testament to Aer Lingus's winning combination of great-value fares and excellent customer service," said spokesman Declan Kearney.