Human Experience Index: Top UK Budget Airlines


It’s July, officially holiday season. The time most people choose to pack up their suncream and beach towels and head for sunnier climes. Most people choose their airline by price, the provider who had the cheapest deal at the time of booking. However, with the power of social media and people sharing their good and bad experiences more and more people are starting to pay higher to avoid certain airlines who are lacking when it comes to Human Experience.

The Human Experience matters, as ultimately the emotions you feel about your journey to and from your chosen destination influence your opinion on the brand. Airline brands need to respond to customer issues in a way that aligns with the actual customer experience otherwise things can go from bad to worse. Anybody remember the United Airlines infamous video showing a passenger being forcibly dragged off an overbooked flight?

A rather traumatic experience, not only for the removed passenger or those sitting on the United Airlines aircraft, but for everyone who went on to see the video.


We analysed over 50,000 online mentions of 5 top ‘budget’ airlines in the UK using our emotion AI platform Emotics. The mentions have been grabbed from social media, forums and customer reviews from April 2019 – July 2019 and analysed across 8 emotion indexes comprised of 24 different emotions to provide us with an insight into which airline provides the best Human Experience and why.

We have ranked the brands by “Adorescore”. The Adorescore is a metric which allows you to understand how well or badly your brand is performing. Based on an index of -100 to 100 you can gauge quickly if your brand is adored or floored.


The below results are only a snippet of the analysis, we have pulled out some of the key themes and topics that are driving high-intensity emotions for each airline brand. Overall the analysis revealed relatively low scores for all airlines analysed, with the highest being 9 and the lowest being -41.

Jet 2

Adorescore 9,  Key emotion: Joy

Low-cost airline Jet2 placed highest in our analysis with an Adorescore of 9. Joy is the key emotion emerging from the data with customers praising the “good deals” and great value flights. Other themes driving joy were the range of vegan and vegetarians options onboard and the friendly customer service.

“@jet2tweets Flight was faultless. Cabin crew and ground staff were great. A guy on the check-in desk on Monday was extremely helpful, finding out as much info as possible for me”


“@alanpryor: @jet2tweets Thank you for a fabulous holiday at the Costa Encantada, Lloret de Mar. Your staff are a credit to you. From the rep at the hotel, the check in resort staff, and transfer”

British Airways

Adorescore -18, Key emotion: Sadness

The most expensive brand of our analysis British Airways placed second in our analysis. In this comparison coming second doesn’t necessarily mean they are performing well. With an Adorescore of -18, their highest-ranking emotion surfacing from the mentions is sadness. 

Customer service issues dominated the conversation online. Customers passionately complained about bad communication from the brand and bad customer service from call centre staff and cabin crew.

“@British_Airways @British_Airways David, thanks for making it clear that BA don’t care about the customer service. Even the good-will voucher never got issued. Disappointing representation of the country’s national airlines. #notbritishairlines”


“@British_Airways really disappointed with your customer service when I have called up regarding my booking. Also very disappointed with the lack of empathy and how there is nothing in place for passengers who have had a heart attack.”


Adorescore: -28, Emerging Emotion: Sadness

Now onto EasyJet, the budget airline received an Adorescore of -28. Majority of the comments driving sadness were due to delayed flights. Some customers complaining about delays of over 4 hours without updates from the brand. Again, bad communication from the brand to the customer rears its head.

“@easyJet I ought to have been more clear, it was the gate staff who were terrible. Rude and aggressive with us as they were clearly unhappy about the flight being delayed. Formal complaint will follow.”


“@easyJet Thanks Lauren It now says delayed till 2:05am on the tracker but have had no other updates on the easyJet app. Five hour delay now. no one at the airport from easyJet to communicate. Incredibly disappointing.”


Adorescore: -39, Key Emotion: Disgust

Irish airline Ryanair is always hitting the headlines with new charges or customer issues so it’s no surprise they are landed with a score of -39. The key emotion expressed was disgust, however, the primary reason was due to claims emerging of homophobic and racist comments made during flights. Customers went online to complain about the events and called for Ryanair to take action against perpetrators.

“This bunch of lads chanted that I was a ‘miserable bitch’ and ‘lesbo’… flight crew did nothing.” @Laurajmuldoon speaks out, saying she received vile homophobic abuse while on a @Ryanair flight #No2LGBTHate”


“@Ryanair absolutely disgusting ; @Ryanair Your staff Rosa at your Madrid (B20) gate to london this afternoon had the nerve to call a passenger ‘fu*king Negro’ and denied her access to the flight. Considering”

Further issues with general customer service also contributed to the brands lower score.

“@Ryanair horrendous customer service trying to get a ticket name change! Still no answer! #shitservice #ryandispair”


Adorescore: -41, Key Emotion: Anger

Our final airline in the analysis is FlyBe hit with an abysmal score of -41 with key emerging emotion being anger. Themes driving anger are last-minute cancellations and again delays. FlyBe had the most complaints regarding staff communication during flight disruptions which seem to be an emerging theme throughout the analysis.

“Thanks to @flybe for cancelling my flight – with no word of apology, and very little in the way of assistance. Enjoying the train instead.”


“Shoutout to @flybe for having zero staff presence anywhere on the airside of @BELFASTCITY_AIR, and no reasoning for a 2 hr 40 min delay on my flight. Great customer service guys xo”


“@flybe 6 pm Sunday evening. Well done for cancelling the only flight to Exeter and customer service offers no alternative, no reason and no solutions for getting home #wouldyoutrustthemagain”


Throughout the analysis of all five airlines, customer service issues and brand communication seem to be the biggest detractors. Cancellations and delays are inevitable for airlines but the data shows that customers want clear communication about these disruptions and alternatives or special offers put in place to ease their disappointment. The lack of human interaction and consideration for the impact a cancellation or delay could have on customer plans is what leads to negative experiences. Meanwhile, paying attention to social issues, equality and choice has the potential to increase the number of positive emotions and thus brand advocates.

Airlines should adapt their internal practices to understand their customers as people instead of statistics in order to provide them with a better overall human experience.

If you would like to find out more about any of the airlines mentioned in this post or would like to see how we can apply our analysis to any brand of your choice, get in touch with us here.

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