Simon Calder, also known as The Man Who Pays His Way, has been writing about travel for The Independent since 1994. In his weekly opinion column, he explores a travel issue. important – and what it means to you
Full disclosure: due to the latest IT crisis at British Airways, I spent most of Friday afternoons and evenings at London Heathrow Airport. Mine was one of more than 200 flights from Thursday to Saturday that were landed by BA. My booked flight to Prague was canceled and the next one was delayed. I finally reached my hotel room in the Czech capital at 1am.
BA also downgraded me: exception, I booked a business class flight. All prices to Prague this weekend are alarmingly high, and when a single seat of the Club Europe popped up on Avios’ frequent flyer website, I grabbed it. But when I finally flew, I was moved from a luxury window seat to a midsize seat.
To continue the topic of demotion: after decades of clinging to the “Silver” position in the British Airways Executive Club, I was finally relegated to “Bronze” – losing all kinds of benefits, from the right lounge use until free seat selection.
So what do I think about BA? instead of more What? Magazines do. This month, “UK consumer champions”, as the organization describes itself, published Its rating of the best and worst airlines of 2023. British Airways has been described as “a completely mediocre airline”.
The survey continued: “In the long run, the story is simple. Fly anyone but British Airways and Lufthansa.” I find that an odd statement, perhaps from someone who has never experienced the “Caribbean configuration” on Air France, for example. While I would do almost anything to never travel on a French airline again, the prospect of a transcontinental flight on BA is appealing.
For nearly 40 years, British Airways has had a nasty long-haul rival Virgin Atlantic, keeping the “legacy” airline honest and competitive. BA has an enviable safety record and thousands of professional staff who strive to provide good service even when technology lets them down.
The “Best and Worst Airlines of 2023” survey gets even weirder. Ryanair’s relief no doubt, What? This year’s worst airline choice is its low-cost rival: Wizz Air.
“Very simply, it must be avoided at all costs,” says What? by Wizz Air.
A carrier that cancels one out of 50 flights within 24 hours of departure and is late almost half the time, deserves its name. So are British Airways and easyJet, which last summer canceled thousands of flights, reducing choice and squeezing fares, often with lousy customer service as passengers struggled to sort out the mess that airlines had to deal with. Aviation created.
Wizz Air admitted to making a serious mistake last year. The airline said: “Flights are frequently delayed or cancelled, disruptions are not managed to an appropriate extent and claims take too long to process. Wizz Air has learned from this experience and is serious about improving.”
What? pointed out that the Wizz Air “gave only one star for seat comfort and cabin environment”. Very strange. I’ve flown enough British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air planes to know there’s nothing substantial to choose between. With 180 cramped seats in an Airbus A320, passengers should not expect extreme luxury.
“At the current level of service and amenities, its new long-haul flights to the Middle East and Asia are truly unthinkable,” he said. What? by Wizz Air. This month, however, I enjoyed a perfectly acceptable flight with the airline from Luton to Tel Aviv – a five-hour journey – and I certainly wanted to break the journey to Dubai. by Wizz Air link from Vienna to Dubai (5 hours 30 minutes and usually £100).
In terms of value for money, Finnair is rated (by 49 readers) as 4*, AIr France is rated 3* and Wizz Air is only 2*. On what planet could the national airlines of Finland and France deliver much better value than a budget startup?
Urging passengers to switch to another airline, where Wizz Air is “avoided at all costs,” makes me find that a strange conclusion from a consumer-choice organization. Try Wizz Air, British Airways and Lufthansa, and get excited about the competition they offer.
After this article was first published, Which? Ask for a chance to answer. The full statement is as follows:
Rory Boland, which one? The Travel Editor, said: “Instead of the point of view of a single travel journalist who travels frequently and perhaps accepts that disruption comes with work, Which one? the survey represents the views of more than 8,000 passengers, who really value their occasional overseas trips and don’t want their trip to be ruined by avoidable disruption or guest service. bad product from their carrier.
“We welcome Simon to join our passenger survey next year, where he can express his opinion on the best and worst airlines alongside thousands of our customers. other airlines. This includes rating his business class experience.”