Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic have been rated as the worst of six major airlines for providing passenger refunds in a survey.

Which? said both were given a customer satisfaction score of 13 per cent when people were asked to rate customer service when applying for a refund.

The consumer group replaced its annual airlines survey with a poll charting consumers' experiences of asking for their money back from six major carriers operating in the UK.

It found 26 per cent of Ryanair passengers were satisfied with their refund offer while only 16 per cent of Virgin Atlantic passengers said the same.

News Shopper: Thousands of Ryanair flights were cancelled in 2020 due to CovidThousands of Ryanair flights were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid

Just under a third of customers who had a flight cancelled by the two airlines told Which? they waited more than three months for the refund.

Jet 2 did best in the survey with a satisfaction score of 76 per cent, with TUI, British Airways and easyJet coming next on the list.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "These findings will come as no surprise to the millions of people left chasing their airline for their money back after suffering a flight cancellation last year."

The consumer group surveyed 1,797 people who had a flight cancelled after 16 March.

Ryanair said all customers who had requested a refund had received one and there was no backlog.

Virgin Atlantic, which secured a rescue deal to secure its future during the pandemic, said a backlog of refunds was completed in November and apologised.

It had processed about £550m of cash refunds since March, totalling 245,000 claims.

A spokesperson for the airline responded: "Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic our absolute focus has been on supporting all of our customers, whether that's to amend, rebook or cancel plans.

"This survey by Which? was conducted in September 2020 and offers an out of date portrayal of customer sentiment."

Earlier this week, a government minister warned British travellers not to book summer holidays.

The vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, was asked if it was too soon for the public to book holidays.

“Absolutely,” he responded. I think it's far too early.

“There's still 37,000 people in hospital with Covid at the moment. It’s far too early for us to even speculate about the summer.”

The remarks were met with a barrage of criticism from the travel industry, which is ending its worst January on record in terms of forward bookings.

Normally the first month of the year sees the highest number of holiday sales.