Emirates and Etihad named among best long-haul economy airlines in UK survey

Singapore Airlines topped the Which? best and worst airlines for 2024 ranking

A seat in Emirates Premium Economy, the airline's newest cabin class. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Emirates and Etihad have been named among the top long-haul economy airlines in a survey of UK passengers by Which?

Singapore Airlines was named the best overall carrier, with a customer score of 83 per cent, closely followed by Emirates with 81 per cent, in the consumer group’s “best and worst airlines for 2024” ranking.

Etihad came in sixth with a score of 70 per cent.

About two thirds, or 64 per cent, of Singapore’s flights left on time, compared with 75 per cent for Emirates. Etihad outranked them both with 85 per cent.

Singapore did not make any last-minute cancellations, while 0.1 per cent of Emirates flights were rescheduled. None of Etihad’s were.

Seats on Singapore and Emirates had a similar pitch of 32 inches to 34 inches, compared with Etihad’s 31 inches to 33 inches.

Singapore and Emirates were rated the same on customer service, seat comfort, food and drink, in-flight entertainment, cleanliness, cabin environment and value for money.

However, Singapore was rated slightly higher on boarding, with five stars as opposed to four for Emirates.

Etihad was rated lower on each category in comparison, aside from seat comfort, where all three airlines scored four stars.

Which? said Singapore and Emirates “stand out for spotless planes, excellent entertainment systems and friendly service.

Virgin Atlantic, Qatar Airways and Qantas made up the rest of the top five airlines.

British Airways was ranked joint third lowest out of the 17 carriers at a score of 59 per cent; followed by American Airlines, also at 59 per cent, Air Canada at 58 per cent and Lufthansa at 56 per cent.

It received only two stars out of five for boarding experience and value for money, and achieved three stars for the other six categories assessed.

The company said it was hit by “several factors outside of our control” in 2023, such as strikes by air traffic controllers.

The survey of Which? members was conducted in October last year and relates to more than 10,000 flights.

Customer scores were based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood to recommend.

Jet2.com was named the best short-haul airline with a score of 81 per cent.

Wizz Air was ranked bottom for short-haul flights for the second year in a row, at 44 per cent, followed by Ryanair at 47 per cent, Iberia at 49 per cent and Vueling at 53 per cent.

Which? said the standard of service experienced by passengers last year often “fell well short of the mark”, with many people struggling to get support when needed.

The sight of passengers being “abandoned” in airport terminals when flights are delayed or cancelled “has become all too common”, it added.

UK air fares reached record highs in 2023.

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “Air fares have soared in recent years, and the bare minimum passengers should expect in return for their hard-earned cash is a reliable service, with friendly, easy to access customer support when they are let down.

“While the likes of Jet2 continue to excel in this regard, our survey shows that passengers of many airlines are sadly being shortchanged – with high rates of last-minute cancellations, abysmal customer service and sneaky extra fees for luggage hiking up the final price.”

Marion Geoffroy, UK managing director at Wizz Air, said the airline did not consider the findings of the report to be representative or the methodology used to be transparent.

“Sample sizes are completely different for every airline,” she said.

“Only 124 Wizz Air passengers were surveyed, while Which? spoke to several thousand people who had flown with some of our competitors.

“We conduct customer satisfaction surveys across our network, and hundreds of thousands of passengers have said they are satisfied with the service we provide.”

Updated: February 24, 2024, 12:01 AM