Study: Air passengers are more satisfied

Air
travellers are more satisfied with their experiences of travel than they were
in 2009, according to a new report.

The
study, conducted by JD Power and Associates, is based on 12,300 passengers who
responded to a survey of people flying on major North American airlines between
April 2009 and April 2010. It measures customer satisfaction of both business
and leisure travellers in seven areas: cost and fees, flight crew, in-flight
services, aircraft, boarding and baggage, check-in and reservation. It’s scaled
on a 1,000 point “satisfaction index” based on the responses.

This
year, 10 of 12 airlines surveyed had an improved passenger satisfaction index,
reaching a three-year high of 673 out of 1,000.

American
Airlines and Continental ranked second and third in the traditional network
carrier segment, behind Alaska Airlines. Continental was particularly praised
for its in-flight services. Delta’s rating was just below the average score of
642 for the segment.

Other findings

Other
findings of the study noted that those travelling in a middle seat registered
16 points less satisfaction than those with a window or aisle seat.
Complimentary meals were the most popular in-flight service, with 65 per cent
of passengers saying it was the amenity they would like the most. Prices of beverages
and food, checked baggage and any preferred seating charges were seen as overly
expensive by nearly half of respondents.

Three
of five passengers checked baggage, with satisfaction scores for those not
charged for the first checked bag 60 points higher than those who were charged.

Stuart
Greif, vice president of JD Power and Associates, attributed some of the
overall satisfaction improvement to global financial issues, saying that this
had led to fewer passengers, fewer flights in the air and therefore better
on-time performance. Lower fares also had an impact, but as airlines started to
charge for baggage, fewer passengers checked luggage. However, the baggage fee
and other add-on fees were becoming accepted, he said.

“Airlines
generally compete based on costs and fees, which is necessary to make their
organizations stronger in an extremely difficult environment,” he said. “It’s
important for carriers to remember, however, that building a base of committed
passengers is also about creating a travel experience that fosters emotional
attachment to a particular carrier, which in turn may make customers willing to
flex their schedules or pay a little more for their flights.”

He added that an economic
recovery would mean that fares would rise along with the number of passengers
travelling.

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American Airlines: passengers more satisfied.
Photo: File