People Love Airlines Right Now (Seriously)
Posted on 05/18/2017
Leggings, violent airplane departures and dead rabbits aside, the North American traveler is still very satisfied with the airline industry.
J.D. Power (h/t CNN) unveiled the results of its 2017 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.The report seems to suggest extraordinary events haven’t exactly swayed the majority of travelers, who are more inclined to judge the industry based on its merits of consistency.
Satisfaction is now up five years running, according to the survey. In fact, 2017’s report states consumer ‘satisfaction’ reached, “its highest level ever.”
Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power, explains: “It’s impossible to think about airline customer satisfaction without replaying the recent images of a passenger being dragged from a seat, but our data shows that, as a whole, the airline industry has been making marked improvements in customer satisfaction across a variety of metrics, from ticket cost to flight crew.”
Airfare is indeed at far more palatable levels. Fortune reported back in January 2016 that ticket prices had plunged to a three-year low. January 2017 reports suggested that airline prices would stay low thanks to fuel costs that remained depressed. J.D. Power’s report even explains costs actually “fell 8.5 (percent) in 2016 to $349.”
One would think consumer satisfaction is tied inextricably to how travelers are treated on their respective flights. According to J.D. Power, the overwhelming majority of flyers are treated very well, despite the rare instances that make headlines.
Taylor continues, “As recent events remind us, however, airlines have significant room for improvement. Airlines still rank among the bottom tier of most service industries tracked by J.D. Power, far lower than North American rental car companies or hotels.”
Recent headlines concur.
If it isn’t United tossing a doctor from one of its planes or allowing a prized rabbit to die on its watch, it’s Delta attendants removing a family who did not want to give up one of their seats and a gate agent who allegedly slapped a phone out of a 12-year-old’s hands. More recently, United saw itself back in the limelight as some of its attendants are being accused of forcing a customer to pee in a cup.
You would think consumer satisfaction would be at an all-time low. Instead, the industry is being lauded by the travelers who enjoy not only lower fares but, according to J.D. Power, are also bumped from flights at historically low levels. It also states that airline staff is seen in an overall favorable light.
While astounding incidents do matter and should be taken with a great deal of gravity by brands as well as consumers, the thing that really resonates with travelers is how consistently the industry operates.
Millions might still be stunned by a violent act taking place on an airline, yet many more care about whether their respective flight is on time and if they can actually get on the plane.