The best airlines for your summer break

Airport queue

If you're planning a last-minute deal for your summer holidays, it might pay to have a quick glance at the latest league table of airlines. Which? has listed the highest and lowest-scoring airlines to fly to Europe with, and while it may not seem a top priority when all you want is a week in the sun, it could start to matter when you spend the first few days getting over the horror of the flight.

So who is the best, and who came bottom of the Which? survey?
Which? asked 8,000 passengers to rate the airlines based on everything from value-for-money to check-in processes, boarding, cabin environment and the airline staff.

It rated all 16 short-haul airlines in the UK, to come up with a recommendation for each destination.


For Spain, British Airways took the top spot., the no-frills airline, also scored well, and took the top spot for some of the destinations that BA doesn't cover - including the Canary and Balearic Islands. The bottom of the list for the mainland was Ryanair, and for the islands was Thomas Cook Airlines.

For Italy, was first out of the six carriers which fly to the country. BA came a close second, while Ryanair was last on the list.

For Greece, the scores were lower across the board, and no airline had a final score above 50%. However, EasyJet was the winner, and Thomas Cook Airlines was bottom of the pile.

For Turkey, Turkish Airlines was a clear winner, although for beach holiday destinations flying with this airline does mean a change in Istanbul. A direct flight isn't everything though: Monarch, which has direct flights to these destinations, was bottom of the pile.

For Portugal BA was the winner, while Thompson Airways was last.

For France, BA took the top spot, while Ryanair took the last position.

However, if you're planning a trip to the North of France, you might be better off by boat. In that case it might be worth bearing in mind that the Institute of Customer Service has rated P&O ferries as its highest-performing ferry company - with a marginally higher score than British Airways.

Make sure your holiday doesn't end in disaster – get travel insurance

Your rights

Whoever you fly with, things can go wrong, so it's worth knowing the basics about your rights before you go.

If your flight is cancelled or overbooked the airline must find alternative means of transport or offer you a refund. If the flight is delayed by five hours or more you're also entitled to a refund - although it means the end of your holiday.

If you are delayed for more than two hours you are entitled to refreshments, and any meals, plus two free phone calls or emails. If the flight is delayed until the next day, you may be offered overnight board, and travel between the airport and the accommodation, depending on the length of the delay and the flight distance.

If you are denied boarding, the flight is cancelled, or you arrive more than three hours late, you may be entitled to compensation of between 250 euros and 600 euros depending on the circumstances involved and the distance you are flying.

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The best airlines for your summer break

If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.

This is more likely to happen due to the financial crisis, but in some situations you are covered. 

If you pay by credit card and it's over £100, you'll get a refund from the card company. 

Your travel insurance may well cover you too, but check before you go.  

Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim.

If it's completely lost you must wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator.

If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.

The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer.


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