CAA likely to name-and-shame Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic

Recent MoneySavingExpert survey highlighted worst-performing airlines for travel refunds

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is set to name and shame the airlines that have been the worst for refunds this week and has said it is prepared to take enforcement action if appropriate. It comes after the UK’s biggest consumer website, MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE), presented the airline regulator with a dossier of 77,000 consumer responses to its survey (1) which highlighted the stark divide in the way firms have treated holidaymakers.

The aviation watchdog is due to produce its report by the end of July and is expected to highlight the airlines that have been slowest to refund. It has already publicly threatened to take enforcement action against airlines that have performed poorly and have failed to improve.

While different data is used and airlines may have made improvements since, it’s likely the results will reflect those seen in MSE’s most recent travel survey, which ran between 30 June and 6 July. It uncovered how people felt about their ‘refund experience’ during the covid-19 pandemic and whether they actually got one. MSE shared its results with the CAA, calling on it to take action for the millions of people still waiting for refunds for long-since cancelled flights.

Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic were the worst-performing big-name airlines in MSE’s survey, receiving ‘net experience scores’ of -89% and -88% respectively. Unsurprisingly these firms were also among the worst-rated for refunding people at all, with a majority of customers saying they'd been waiting more than two months for a refund since first asking and just 4% and 1% of customers respectively saying they'd had a refund at that point.

Airline-by-airline results

Data below was collected as part of MSE’s most recent travel survey. It includes all airlines listed in MSE’s survey, not just those regulated by the CAA in the UK. Although not a statistical random sample of the UK public, this huge survey does paint a strong picture of what’s going on in travel refunds.

Firm

Number of responses for net score

Net score (2)

% of people who got full refund after firm cancelled (3)

1. Ryanair

8,897

-89

4%

2. Air Transat*

173

-88

0%

3. Virgin Atlantic

2,675

-88 

1%

4. KLM

575 

-79 

4%

5. Lufthansa

310 

-78 

6%

6. Loganair

183 

-73 

6%

7. Air France

198 

-69 

9%

8. Aer Lingus

551 

-68 

12%

9. Turkish Airlines

113 

-60 

8%

10. Etihad

112 

-54 

19%

11. Vueling

196 

-52 

24%

12. Emirates

743 

-48 

18%

13. Easyjet

6,407 

-39

30%

14. Wizz Air

215 

-34 

30%

15. Qatar Airways

127 

-6 

38%

16. American Airlines 

137 

+9 

53%

17. British Airways 

3,248

+11 

60%

18. Norwegian Air

309 

+23 

70%

19. Jet2

3,269

+77 

87%

 

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "It’s time to end the refund farce.  Airlines have a legal duty to refund within a week, not to obfuscate for months. The level of frustration amongst customers is huge with the worst airlines – not just about the lack of money but the excuses, broken promises, and time wasted calling permanently-engaged phone lines.

"It’s about time the CAA bared its teeth – putting meaningful pressure on Virgin, Ryanair and others, to shell out and do it faster. 

"Of course, I understand the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry sector is devastating. It's why I've long called for 'forbearance' both ways – if people can help by taking vouchers, or rebooking, then they should. But those who need a refund have a legal right to it, and we cannot allow firms to flout the law with impunity, when that cash is crucial to many people’s survival."

-ends-

Notes to editors

(1)    This was the second of two MSE surveys charting travel customer satisfaction during the covid-19 pandemic. Respondents could do the survey more than once if they were dealing with different firms. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/07/latest-travel-survey/

(2)    Net score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of respondents who rated their experience with the firm as 'Poor' from the percentage who rated their experience as 'Great'. The number who rated their experience as 'OK' is not factored in. 
MSE allowed users to write in firms that weren't included in the initial list of options and they were included in the table if more than 100 responses for that particular firm were received – these are marked with an asterisk. 
The five biggest firms (in terms of number of responses received about them) are listed in bold. 
TUI was included in the original survey but it did not specify TUI Airways for flight-only customers, so has been removed.

(3)    Percentage of respondents who told us they requested a refund from an airline after their flight was cancelled for them and then went on to receive one.