New Survey Reveals The Worst 3 Airlines In Europe According To Travelers

New Survey Reveals The Worst 3 Airlines In Europe According To Travelers

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Europe may be the global capital for railway travel, with new exciting cross-border journeys launching this year, including a Sleeper Train visiting 7 of its most beautiful cities, but flying remains by far and large the easiest and cheapest way to explore the culturally-charged continent.

Even the most environmentally-conscious of travelers will throw caution to the wind when tempted with ten-dollar flights to Spain or a last-minute sunny getaway offer to Cyprus that costs less commuting within a single country, but flying in Europe does not come without its challenges.

Wizz Air Aircraft Taking Off With A Snowy Mountain In The Background

While it’s true you can save a substantial amount of money traveling low-cost, you’ll have to master the art of carry-on packing, observe strict luggage policies, and you might have to allow for some flexibility in your travel plans (you know, just in case there’s some delay involved).

In case you’ve been wondering, and if you’re the kind who likes to make better-informed decisions when it comes to booking flights, a new Which? survey has revealed the top 3 worst airlines for short-haul flights in Europe (and it includes the leading budget carrier):


Iberia Aircraft In Madrid Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain

With an approval score of 49%, Spain’s Iberia is not only the third worst airline for flights within Europe but the worst-ranking full-service carrier based on the Which? survey. That’s not to say it’s bad, as around 87% of flights will arrive on time.

Still, on-time performance is not the only metric to factor in, with the lack of complimentary food and personalized service on short-haul routes, which comprise the bulk of Iberia’s flight map, likely to be perceived negatively by customers.

traveler at airport flight board

This wouldn’t be a problem with Ryanair, Vueling, or easyJet, as resorting to aggressive fare wars while maintaining operational costs as low as possible seems to be their business model. Iberia, on the other hand, has higher ticket prices compared to budget carriers.

Flying from London to Madrid, tickets start from $86 one-way, no luggage added, compared to only $25 on Ryanair. At those rates, you’d expect Iberia to offer more comfort, or even provide free snacks onboard, and that is almost never the case short-haul.


Tourists Boarding A Ryanair Flight In Europe

Speaking of Ryanair, the Irish giant is the single-largest budget carrier in Europe, reaching 227 international destinations. Its short-haul flights serve not only European but also North African, Middle Eastern, and Western Asian hubs, with Morocco, Türkiye, Egypt, and Armenia, to name a few.

When it comes to customer service, you get what you pay for: you can’t expect pampering, well-cushioned seats, free nibbles, or even reclination, for that matter, on a $20 flight from Paris-Beauvais to Gdansk, one of the prettiest cities in Poland, or Malaga, in Spain’s warm Costa Del Sol.

aerial view of Malaga, Spain

At an approval rate of 47%, complaints include stiff seats and (at times) disdainful staff. Compared to the United States, it’s almost impossible to sack contract employees based on their performance and/or treatment of customers unless it’s something major due to Europe’s robust labor rights.

Don’t expect Ryanair flight attendants to go out of their way to be accommodating of your needs, nor the airline itself to show understanding, or issue refunds if you can’t make your flight due to personal reasons. On the bright side, their punctuality is not suboptimal, with most departures happening on time.

Wizz Air

Wizz Air Staff Pictured Mid Flight, Unspecified Flight, Europe

The title of the worst airline in Europe currently goes to Hungary-based Wizz Air, with a customer score of only 44%. Issues are similar to those of Ryanair, as it scores low for seat comfort, food and drinks, and it’s essentially a Business and First Class customer’s worst nightmare.

It will get you where you need to be, and there’s no denying cheap last-minute tickets starting from as low as $34 are hard to come by in other airlines, but you definitely shouldn’t expect the typically indifferent staff to adhere to the highest standards of customer service.

luggage with wizzair plane

Once again, this is not America, where it’s all smiles and pleasantries. That being said, Wizz Air flights departed on time for the most part throughout 2023, with only 2% being delayed by over three hours, higher than most of its competitors, yet not alarmingly high.

The company has fought back against the classification, declaring the survey methodology as ‘misleading’ and stating the results are ‘not representative’, pointing out that only 1.15% of respondents said they flew with Wizz Air during that period.


view of a young woman on an airport

Wizz Air, Ryanair, and Iberia are three of the most popular airlines in Europe, and though the customer experience is not stellar, based on the Which? survey, it’s relatively satisfactory. Once again, you shouldn’t expect outstanding service paying the equivalent to a meal on flight tickets.

Being low-cost carriers, they will of course attract both fierce defenders and staunch detractors, and the latter is particularly true for those who have had a particularly bad experience flying low-cost in Europe, be it as a result of mishandled luggage, flight delays, or unhelpful staff.

Frustrated Passenger At Airport

This does not mean you should expect the worst yourself or that your own customer journey will be fully reflective of the results of this survey, which, as Wizz Air officials remarked, may have had its results affected by the underrepresentation of certain targeted audiences.

The full list of best-performing airlines on short-haul European routes, ranked from best to worst based on Which?‘s findings, can be seen below, alongside their respective customer scores:

  1. Jet2: 81%
  2. Icelandair: 74%
  3. Norwegian: 74%
  4. Turkish Airlines: 73%
  5. Logan Air: 72%
  6. Swiss: 71%
  7. Finnair: 68%
  8. TAP Portugal: 67%
  9. Aer Lingus: 66%
  10. Air France: 65%
  11. SAS: 64%
  12. Aegean Airlines: 63%
  13. KLM: 62%
  14. EastJet: 59%
  15. TUI: 59%
  16. Air Malta: 58%
  17. Lufthansa: 57%
  18. BA: 56%
  19. Vueling Airlines: 53%
  20. Iberia: 49%
  21. Ryanair: 47%
  22. Wizz Air: 44%

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