In-flight services—not ticket prices—boost passenger satisfaction on international flights

10:55 pm | | Comments 4

Booking a domestic flight for a quick trip or a business meeting or a visit to a relative! You are certainly going to look for a cheaper—if not the cheapest—option. All the booking apps even work in that way. So far, so good! But when it comes to long international travel and preferably vacation travel, what we perceive is something else. Our choices and preferences become different, ticket prices are definitely not on the top of it. Now there is a study to show that.

Great food—the spicier the better—plus good customer service and a positive track record are the primary drivers of passenger satisfaction on international airline flights. In a stark departure from the price-driven culture of domestic airline customer behaviour, the J.D. Power 2019 Airline International Destination Satisfaction Study, finds that cost and fees are notably less important than in-flight services when it comes to delighting passengers on international flights.

Passengers are more interested in in-flight services during international travel

The Airline International Destination Satisfaction Study is a new syndicated study that measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers flying from North America to Europe and from North America to Asia. It is based on performance in nine factors (in order of average importance across both models): in-flight services; cost and fees; aircraft; flight crew; check-in; boarding; immigration; baggage; and reservation. The study is based on responses from 6,287 passengers and was fielded in September-October 2019.

“A low fare may be the best way to attract a first-time international passenger,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power, “but retaining passengers on routes to Europe and Asia is all about delighting customers with great in-flight experiences. One of the most powerful ways to do that is with food and beverage offerings that are unique to the airline’s culture and that manage to deliver flavour at altitude, where it has been proven that taste buds grow less sensitive.” Established in 1968, J.D. Power has offices serving North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Some key findings of the study:

  • In-flight services—especially food and beverage—are key to passenger satisfaction: In-flight services, such as food and beverage and in-flight entertainment, are the primary drivers of passenger satisfaction among international travellers. On flights to Europe and Asia, more than half of the overall in-flight passenger experience is dictated by food and beverage. In-flight services are more important to passengers bound for Asia or Europe; whereas passenger satisfaction with long-haul flights within North America is more of a value proposition primarily driven by cost and fees.
  • But the food could be better…: While the food and beverage factor is key to passenger satisfaction, there is room for improvement. Overall passenger satisfaction with food and beverage offerings is currently lower than that of satisfaction with in-flight entertainment options. On flights to Europe, overall satisfaction with in-flight entertainment is 53 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) than for food and beverage. On flights to Asia, that gap is 22 points.
  • Track record matters when it comes to airline selection: The primary drivers of airline selection among international passengers are past experience with the airline (40%); good customer service (36%); convenient scheduling (35%); reputation (33%); and lower ticket price (31%). Other variables, which weigh heavily on airline selection among domestic travelers—such as availability of a direct flight, no luggage fees and Wi-Fi access—play a much less significant role in airline selection among international travellers.
Japan Airlines ranks best among airlines flying from North America to Asia

Study Rankings

  • Among carriers flying from North America to Europe, Turkish Airlines ranks highest in passenger satisfaction with a score of 833. Virgin Atlantic (829) ranks second, while British Airways and Delta Air Lines (815) rank third in a tie.
  • Among carriers flying from North America to Asia, Japan Airlines ranks highest in passenger satisfaction with a score of 869. Delta Air Lines (861) ranks second and Korean Air (854) ranks third.
Domestic travellers are more concerned about ticket pricing

How do you decide, with which airlines to book your international travel ticket? Low price or good services? Is their anything else as well? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  1. Did the survey ask questions about leg space? Sitting in cramped seats while having a gourmet meal tipped into your lap because the chap in front decided to lean back still doesn’t cut it. Give me leg space first, then I will complain about bad meals 🙂

    1. swamiupendra says:

      Leg space is inversely proportional to airlines profit! Less the space, more the profit!!

      1. Not entirely, because of the law of diminishing returns. When the leg space becomes too small, ticket sales fall as people move to other airlines.

      2. swamiupendra says:

        Not entirely but a lot bit!

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