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Best UK Airlines - Top 10 Rating for 2023

10 Best UK Airlines - Top Carrier Rankings by AirAdvisor for 2023

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
18 minutes read
Last Updated: August 28, 2023

Five people, 10 airlines, 9 categories, 30 different factors, and 3 weeks of time. This is what went into our research and calculations to determine once and for all the top 10 airlines in the UK.

Overall, we analyzed:

  • Almost 1.5 million different flights.
  • 376,764 reviews from 10 sources.
  • Over a quadrillion seat miles.
  • 42 plane accidents from 2022 and 2023.

The result is a comprehensive list that ranks all the UK-based airlines against 9 categories. Now, let’s see who came out on top (and bottom):

The Top 5 Airlines in the UK

Each airline could receive a total of 90 points (10 points per individual category).

Top 10 UK Airlines - Overall AirAdvisor Top Airline Score

Virgin Atlantic - Number 1 Airline in the UK

The best airline in the UK, according to the all-encompassing AirAdvisor Airline Ranking, is Virgin Atlantic. Unlike our research on the Top 10 Airlines in the US, in the UK, the highest-rated airline doesn’t actually top many categories. What Virgin does do is score very well in most of them. In this case, it’s consistency that pays off.

In a somewhat surprising finding, Virgin Atlantic is the cheapest airline in the UK and has managed to beat out all the typical low-cost carriers operating in the country. Virgin also scores in the top 3 for comfort, reliability, professional reviews, customer reputation, and family travel, and has a low percentage of delayed flights.

Virgin Atlantic is a relatively small airline when you compare it to others in the UK, but they still managed to transport over 4 million passengers in 2022 to well over 100 exciting destinations. And in this case, it’s safe to say that smaller seems to result in reliability, countless features, and a welcome personal touch. When we add everything up, Virgin receives the top score of 72 points total.

British Airways - Number 2 Airline in the UK

British Airways is the second-best UK airline

Most Brits have probably flown British Airways at one time or another, and with its status as the largest UK airline in terms of fleet size and destinations (not passengers), it’s good to know that BA is the second-best airline in the United Kingdom. In 2022, British Airways boarded over 30 million passengers - 7 times more than Virgin. But even with all these extra flights and people and more opportunities for things to go wrong, British Airways manages to stay ahead of most of its competitors with an overall score of 67 points.

As the UK’s flag carrier airline, BA stands out in the categories of lounges, comfort, family travel, and professional reviews. The airline is also fairly reliable, with a decent percentage of on-time flights.

Jet2 - Number 3 Airline in the UK

Jet2 is the UK’s third-largest airline that predominantly focuses on leisure and charter flights. Looking to take a vacation? Jet2 is a great option as they also rank third on the AirAdvisor top 10 UK airline list, which isn’t bad when you’re known for your budget ways. Their total score was a solid 60 points.

In 2022, Jet2 carried about half the passengers of British Airways (15 million) and was our most reliable airline overall. Add to this a top ranking in the customer reputation category, and you can see why this discount carrier ranks so high. The funny thing, though, is that Jet2 is actually the most expensive airline we profiled, with the highest cost per seat mile. So, don’t always assume that low-cost airlines are cheaper!

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TUI Airways - Number 4 Airline in the UK

As the fourth-best UK airline, TUI Airways does a lot of things right. The airline is great for comfort, customer reputation, family travel, and airline lounges, earning it an overall score of 59 points. But it does fall short in one of the important categories - reliability. In fact, we had no choice but to assign TUI Airways the title of the worst UK airline for on-time flight percentages and cancellations as they do not publish their data. Not exactly what you look for in an airline. TUI is also quite expensive to fly and is the priciest after Jet2.

TUI Airways is the largest charter airline in the world and routinely flies up to 12 million annual passengers. TUI flies to all your favourite vacation destinations, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

EasyJet - Number 5 Airline in the UK

EasyJet is the largest airline in the UK by passenger volume

If we’re strictly speaking about passenger volume, easyJet is the largest UK airline, just nudging out British Airways with the 33 million travellers the airline carried in 2022. On our AirAdvisor top UK airline list, easyJet doesn’t fare too well (or too poorly). They are right in the middle, Goldilocks style, with a score of 57.

EasyJet’s strengths are its reliability (second-best), price (also second-best), and comfort scores - all key components to enjoying your next flight. Where it lacks is mostly in the customer reputation and both pet and family travel categories.

The Following 5 Best-Ranked UK Airlines

Now that we’ve been through the top 5 airlines, it’s time to venture into the bottom 5. Generally speaking, these are lesser-known, smaller airlines that likely find it hard to compete with the giants on the top half of our list. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth using - here’s what they have going for them:

Loganair - Number 6 Airline in the UK

Loganair is affectionately known as Scotland’s airline and is the UK’s largest regional airline by both fleet size and passenger volume. Loganair scores well for price (it’s number 3) and is right in the middle of the pack for the important categories of comfort and reliability. Overall, Loganair earned a total of 50 - quite respectable for an airline of its size.

This regional carrier still manages to fly to over 40 different destinations stretching from Norway to Germany to Ireland, plus many destinations throughout the UK. If your chosen destination matches up with Loganair’s routes, you can do a lot worse than this Scottish favourite.

Blue Islands - Number 7 Airline in the UK

Although the regional airline of Blue Islands doesn’t get anywhere near the number of passengers of giants like easyJet and British Airways, it is an important travel option for anyone navigating the UK’s Channel Islands. The airline links these islands with the rest of the UK and Europe.

Blue Islands’ overall position of 7 doesn’t necessarily mean it does everything below average. In fact, for reliability, price, and lounges, this carrier scores fairly well. And if you need to reach the scenic islands of Guernsey or Jersey, Blue Islands is often a good choice, with a decent total score of 45.

Aurigny Air Services - Number 8 Airline in the UK

Another carrier operating out of the Channel Islands, and more specifically, Guernsey, Aurigny Air Services, is number 8 on our list. The airline scores about where you’d expect in most categories (42 overall), except for customer reputation. Based on customer reviews, Aurigny scores above average and earns the number 4 spot in this category.

Best UK airlines operating out of the Channel Islands

Eastern Airways - Number 9 Airline in the UK

Eastern Airways is another small, regional airline based in North Lincolnshire. Despite being small, passengers can fly to top destinations in the UK and even as far as Paris Orly Airport. Although it may not be among the best airlines on our overall list, Eastern scores well in the categories of comfort and price - two factors that are typically very important to travellers. Eastern Airways also offers charter flights in addition to regular domestic and international routes. They may just have the flight configuration that you need, so don’t let their score of 40 throw you too much.

Wizz Air UK - Worst Airline in the UK

You may have heard of the Hungarian carrier Wizz Air already, but Wizz Air UK is a somewhat separate entity operating out of the UK and is headquartered at London’s Luton Airport. Unfortunately, this low-cost airline scores the worst overall of the bunch. As you’d expect, most of Wizz’s scores are low, but the carrier is the worst for comfort and customer reputation. And once you’re at the bottom in two major categories, it’s very hard to bounce back.

Basically, check out all the other airlines on our list before you resort to using Wizz UK. Based on our extensive research, you’ll likely thank us due to its very low score of 30 points overall.

Most Reliable UK Airline with the Fewest Disruptions

Blue Islands had the highest percentage of on-time flights in both 2022 and 2023, but unfortunately, its relatively high instances of cancelled flights mean that it is not the UK’s most reliable airline.

That honour, overall, goes to Jet2, who, in addition to healthy on-time percentages in both years, took the top position for the smallest percentage of cancelled flights. In 2022 it was 0.09%, and in 2023 it was 0.02%. To provide some perspective, one of the least reliable airlines in 2022 had a cancelled flight percentage of 17.28% (Aurigny Air Services).

It’s also worth mentioning that easyJet, who had the highest number of flights in both years, also scored well for reliability. They ranked second overall.

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Most Comfortable Airline for the Best In-Flight Experience

Most comfortable UK airlines

Both British Airways and TUI Airways are the winners of the best airlines for comfort in the UK. They both swept the board, providing all the services you could want for a comfortable flight. These options include in-flight entertainment, complimentary snacks and beverages, comfort seating, onboard Wi-Fi, and comfort items like pillows and blankets.

Virgin Atlantic is another comfortable option and takes the number 3 spot in this category. The only place it lets passengers down is its seats. They certainly aren’t as comfortable as they could be.

Safest Airlines in the UK

This category is definitely an important one because every airline wants to be the safest, and every passenger wants to fly a safe airline. Well, there’s nothing but good news here. According to IATA (the International Air Transport Association), there were zero accidents with any of the 10 UK airlines we examined. In fact, the same goes for 2021 - no plane accidents.

So, you can choose any of the airlines mentioned here, and the safety record for the last 2 years will be exactly the same (and perfect).

Top 5 Airlines by Customer Reputation Score

Arguably, one of the best measurements of overall satisfaction is the customer review, and airlines are no different from conventional businesses like stores and restaurants. If you want to get an overview of the passenger experience on any airline, read the reviews.

And that’s exactly what we did. Here are the top 5 airlines based on their customer reputation score:

Airline

Number of Reviews

Average Review Score

Customer Reputation Ranking

Jet2

78,084

4.0

1

TUI Airways

79,941

3.78

2

Virgin Atlantic

26,946

3.45

3

Aurigny Air Services

495

3.4

4

Loganair

1090

3.1

5

One thing that stands out here is that we see that some of the smaller regional airlines rank higher than powerhouses like easyJet and British Airways. Bigger definitely isn’t always better!

Best Budget Carriers in the UK

Price is an important factor for many travellers, especially as flights may seem a little expensive right now. So, if you need to stick to a budget, the best airlines in the UK to choose are Virgin Atlantic, with a passenger revenue per seat mile of £5.26, and easyJet, with a passenger seat mile revenue of £5.55.

Loganair is also on the cheaper side, with an average seat mile revenue of £5.81. You may not expect this, as many smaller airlines tend to be more expensive since they don’t usually benefit from as many economies of scale. That’s why Loganair stands out.

The Most Expensive Airline in the UK

Jet2 is the most expensive UK airline

Jet2 has an average passenger revenue per available seat mile of £8.88, nearly 60% higher than the cheapest UK airline - Virgin Atlantic. That can make a big difference to any travel budget, especially when you think about how many miles the average flight travels. Even a short flight from London Gatwick to Paris Orly is over 200 miles.

Another of the more expensive UK airlines is TUI, which is just barely lower than Jet2 at £8.86 revenue per seat mile. If price is a determining factor for you, avoid TUI Airways and Jet2 if you can.

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Worst UK Airlines

As we mentioned in our top 10 list, Wizz Air UK is at the bottom. The other worst airlines in the UK include Eastern Airways and Aurigny Air Services.

Although Wizz Air is meant to be a low-cost carrier, it is one of the most expensive airlines you can choose. It has the lowest possible scores for comfort and reputation and doesn’t do much better for lounge reviews and family and pet-friendly travel.

As for the other worst airlines in the UK, Eastern Airways and Aurigny, it may not be fair, but they tend to get a bit of a pass due to their small size. They aren’t necessarily expected to compete with the big airlines and instead offer more of a niche travel service that customers need to reach certain destinations.

Best Airlines for Family Travel

The hands-down best airline in the UK to use when you’re traveling as a family is British Airways. They get top marks in each of our categories. BA has great in-flight entertainment and all the family-friendly policies related to meals, seating, and strollers that you could want.

Aside from BA, Jet2, TUI, and Virgin all score well in 4 out of 5 categories. The only place they let families down a little is that they don’t provide free seat selection for kids under 13 to help guarantee a family sits together.

Virgin Atlantic is the top UK airline for lounges

Best 5 Airlines for Lounge Reviews

Here are the best airlines (UK-based) for lounges that you can use before your flight:

Airline

Number of Reviews

Average Review Score

Lounge Ranking

Virgin Atlantic

1,122

4.4

1

British Airways

1,892

4.1

2

Jet2

8,126

3.4

3 (tie)

TUI Airways

7,184

3.4

3 (tie)

easyJet

337

3.1

5

Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways score well in this category, and even well-known budget airlines make the top 5. If relaxing in an airport lounge is an important part of your travel experience, you can’t go wrong flying Virgin Atlantic and using the Clubhouse.

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The Most Pet-Friendly Airlines

There are 3 airlines in the UK that can easily be considered the most pet-friendly, and they are Loganair, Aurigny Air Services, and TUI Airways. These 3 all tie for the top spot because they all permit pets in both the cabin and cargo hold. If you need to travel with a pet and don’t want to ship them separately, these are your best choices.

British Airways does also allow pets in the cabin with you but not in the cargo hold. The rest of the airlines we reviewed do not allow pets to travel with you at all.

AirAdvisor Airline Rating: Carriers Ranked

Ranking

Airline

Consolidated score

Most Reliable

Most Comfortable

Safest Airline

Cheapest Airline

Customer reputation score

Air Lounges reviews

Professional reviews

Family

Pets

1st place

Virgin Atlantic

8

8

8

10

10

8

10

9

8

1

2nd place

British Airways

7.44

7

10

10

4

4

9

10

10

3

3rd place

Jet2

6.67

10

4

10

1

10

8

8

8

1

4th place

TUI Airways

6.56

1

9

10

2

9

8

6

8

6

5th place

EasyJet

6.33

9

7

10

9

3

7

7

4

1

6th place

Loganair

5.56

5

5

10

8

6

2

4

4

6

7th place

Blue Islands

5

6

3

10

6

5

6

4

2

3

8th place

Aurigny Air Services

4.67

2

2

10

5

7

2

4

4

6

9th place

Eastern Airways

4.44

3

6

10

7

2

2

5

4

1

10th place

Wizz Air UK

3.33

4

1

10

3

1

2

4

4

1

Criteria and Methodology

In all, we established 9 unique categories to get the overall AirAdvisor Top Airline Score. We used data from 2022 and 2023 to keep everything as current as possible - we all know that things can change quickly. Here is a little more information on each of the important factors we used:

Reliability - Using data from OAG, which is a UK-based worldwide travel data provider, we reviewed stats from all of 2022 and up to the end of June 2023. For each airline, we calculated the on-time flight percentage and the percentage of flight cancellations.

Comfort - For the comfort score, we researched the individual airline policies, and each criterion received a yes or no answer. We judged comfort based on the seats, Wi-Fi availability, access to pillows and blankets, in-flight entertainment, and complimentary food or beverages (non-alcoholic). Any airline that has these services or items scores better than the ones that don’t.

Safety - This is another category that was pretty cut and dry. The airline either had a safety incident in 2022, according to IATA, or it didn’t.

Price - Using publicly available data from the airlines themselves, we calculated the passenger revenue per seat mile in 2022. This is the airline’s reported passenger revenue divided by the total available annual seat miles. Lower numbers mean lower average prices for passengers.

Customer Reputation - To get our customer reputation score, we analyzed reviews from 9 different sites, including TripAdvisor, Kayak, Yelp, Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, Airlinequality.com, Trust Pilot, and Influenster.com. We also consolidated all the published Google reviews. Using all of these review sites amounted to 358,101 reviews, which is a fantastic cross-section.

Airline Lounges - Does the airline have a branded lounge or not? If yes, we used the average customer review score to rank them. For this, we included over 18,000 additional lounge reviews.

Professional Reviews - The professional reviews component focuses on where the UK airlines placed on the 2023 World's Top 100 Airlines List. We also accounted for other prestigious awards, like The World’s Best Low-Cost Airline in 2023, World’s Best In-Flight Entertainment in 2023, and the World’s Best Cabin Crew in 2023, plus many others.

Family Travel - Family travel is also based on yes or no responses when it comes to the availability of family seating, kid’s meals, complimentary seat selection for children under 13, in-flight entertainment, and free stroller check-in. The more yesses, the better the airline scored overall.

Traveling with Pets - We addressed the questions of whether or not you can take your pet with you in the cabin or can place them in the cargo hold on your next flight. We also examined whether or not the airline’s lounge (if they have one) would welcome pets.

Virgin Atlantic tops the airline ratings in the UK

Conclusion

Many of the UK’s regional airlines score lower on the list, which makes sense - it’s hard for the little guy to compete with the huge national and budget carriers. But these airlines are still useful for flying certain routes (especially to the Channel Islands) and tend to have decent customer reputation scores.

Everyone values different things, so the best UK airline for one person might not be for someone else. If there are specific categories that are important to you, like price or comfort, base your purchase decisions on those instead of the overall score. Otherwise, to get the best overall flight and travel experience, determine your route and search starting with Virgin Atlantic and then work your way down the AirAdvisor Top Airline Score list.

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FAQ

What are the best airlines in the UK?

According to the comprehensive AirAdvisor Top Airline Score, where rankings are based on 9 categories, Virgin Atlantic is the top airline in the UK. Virgin is followed closely by British Airways and Jet2 in the second and third spots, respectively.

Which UK airline is the best rated by customers?

Based on over 350,000 reviews from 9 sources, we found that Jet2 is the highest-rated UK airline by passengers. Also among the best UK airlines for reputation are TUI Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

What are the best budget airlines in the UK?

The highest-ranking budget airline on our list is Jet2 - they take the third spot overall. Other top budget airlines include TUI Airways (#4) and easyJet (#5). Using any of these 3 airlines is likely to offer the best combination of price and service.

How do you determine the airline rankings?

To ensure we got the entire picture in our AirAdvisor Top Airline Score, we reviewed flight reliability, customer reviews, lounge reviews, in-flight comfort, pet and family travel convenience, professional reviews/awards, price, and safety. We accounted for every component that goes into a favourable flight experience.

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Jenny 09.02.2024

easyjet is best low cost airline, travel to places with it and love it despite occasional flight delays..

James Mcaertin 29.01.2024

Always nice to see Loganair on the list but I am surprised that EasyJet is pretty low

Aman  28.08.2023

I thought Easyjet and BA would be come on top. I did not see Ryanair and Wizz being mentioned as the worst

Jessica 28.08.2023

Hoh surprised to see Easyjet to rank quite low, interested to see how UK airlines are compared to Emirates and Qatar airways.

Mykes  28.08.2023

I don’t get it, why easyJet is not Top 1 airline. I believe it is the best from the list!

Tony 28.08.2023

Wow, that’s quite unusual to see, interesting read, will consider flying with Virgin next time

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