Most airline travellers are calling for a segregated family section on all aircraft, and frequent flyers programme members wish there were even fewer restrictions on award travel bookings, according to a study of airline customer experiences conducted by Maritz Research.
The survey found that, although customer feedback varied greatly from airline to airline, competing on price alone is no longer an option because the customer experience is becoming far more important than the amount of money being spent.
Rick Garlick, director of consulting and strategic implementation at Maritz Research, warned that airlines and airports must consider enticing and satisfying their customers in other ways, such as creating a family seating section, improving their frequent flier programmes, or even serving healthy or gourmet cuisine.
What passengers want
The Maritz Poll, which surveyed passengers who had flown during the past six months, found that:
- Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe that there should be a segregated family section on all aircraft.
- Of those who attempted to redeem airline miles for flights, 80% were able to get a seat on a flight that fitted their travel plans. But frequent flier programmes are still a sore spot for the 67% of respondents who said that their opinion of airlines is negatively affected by the tightening of policies regarding loyalty miles expiring.
- Although some people can't seem to live without their Blackberry or mobile phone, 56% said that passengers should continue to disconnect during flight. Only 27% said it was a good thing.
- When asked which two services or options they'd be willing to pay extra for, respondents overwhelming chose extra leg room (63%) and better food (42%).
- About one-third (34%) of first class travellers said that they would be more inclined to fly with an airline that offered gourmet food with a well-known chef in the first class section. And when asked about healthy dining options in airports, 57% said there weren't enough options. If healthy fast food was offered in the airport, 69% said they would take advantage of that facility.
According to Garlick, "Airlines and airports are part of the hospitality industry. Other areas of the industry, such as hotels and amusement parks, take the customer experience seriously. They create a welcoming atmosphere, train their employees to deliver impeccable customer service, and adapt to meet the wants and needs of their customers. Airlines and airports urgently need to do the same."