In a world where online reviews count towards 88% of consumers decision making, what are the most important features that make a great airline and how can they be achieved?
In the Travellers Choice awards for 2018, TripAdvisor revealed the Top airlines across the world, according to an accumulation of the best online reviews.
Having already disclosed the secrets to global airline success, the focus is now on the importance of great airline qualities – why are people choosing to fly with certain airlines over others, and what can airline companies be doing to match their competitors success?
Food and inflight meals has always been a challenge for airlines, yet it’s one of the first features for passengers to comment on when they have both a good and bad experience.
When in flight, passengers lose around 30% of their ability to taste food – which in retrospect has probably not always been a hindrance – however passenger’s expectations are growing as they anticipate more and better food options from airlines. For example, Singapore Airlines (which won first place in the Travellers Choice awards for 2018) had a number of reviews specifically noting the quality of inflight meals:
So what can other airlines be doing to keep up with the competition? To boost culinary credentials, world-class airlines across the globe are enlisting the help of celebrity chefs to create tempting business class menus – and attracting business class passengers is crucial to the success of any airline.
Additionally, airlines like Singapore Airlines provide a variety of food cuisines as a taste of culture from around the world; by catering to the many (and this also includes dietary needs) an airline is providing not only better customer service, but a reason for passengers to choose one airline over another.
A passenger’s experience echoes the features that make a great airline; this is absolutely key to an airline’s success.
In-flight entertainment systems can take the passenger’s experience of flying with your airline to the next level and ensure that your consumers have an amazing flight. To gain customers, you need to give them what they’re looking for:
In the battle for airlines to stand out from the crowd, flight operators are continually looking for innovative ways to make their particular service catch the eye of the consumer; this can be achieved by offering something tailored to every kind of passenger. For example, as mentioned in the review above, EVA Air offer different in-flight entertainment depending on what route the passengers are flying; a great demonstration of cultural awareness, as well as customer service for those frequent flyers.
Other airlines such as Emirates have recently cut a deal with Disney in order to tailor their inflight entertainment to the visually impaired by offering an audio description option.
Airlines such as Southwest based in the US are receiving huge passenger satisfaction due to their value for money flights, as well as the great deals they offer on their ‘fly free’ bag service:
By offering great deals such as ‘bags fly free’, passengers can save up to £100 per roundtrip; this is always going to attract passengers to fly with particular airlines.
Budget prices and affordability are key features that make a great airline, and that attract more passengers to your company. The growth of low-cost carriers has been an aviation phenomenon; budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair have the largest short-haul networks of any carrier in the UK - and in many cases they are more profitable on earnings per share basis than their older, larger rivals.
The introduction of price comparison websites now gives consumers the opportunity to compare their airline options, based purely on price. In order to compete with budget carriers, airline’s need to ensure that their service and airline features/passenger experiences reflect the prices that they are charging for flights.
Rated and reviewed by Telegraph readers, in terms of both price and comfort, the top three airlines for long-haul travel are Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand; this is also reflected in Travellers Choice awards for 2018 by TripAdvisor, with Singapore Airlines winning overall, Air New Zealand runner-up and Emirates in third place.
Most plane seats are shrinking, so it is no surprise that passengers identify seating as one of, if not the biggest priority when booking a flight. Thirty-nine per cent of people surveyed by Momondo, a travel comparison website, said that comfortable seating with ample leg room was their main concern; however, the good news is that passenger comfort is now improving.
Noting the concern for lack of space and discomfort in economy class, airline Air New Zealand introduced an innovative Skycouch which allows a row of three economy seats to be converted into a flat-bed; this may explain why Air New Zealand are ranked number three, by providing amazing features that make a great airline.
Similarly, Lufthansa have created slimmer, more comfortable seat that is made with a mesh fibre instead of traditional foam padding; this is to allow for increased leg room. Its innovations, science and engineering that are contributing to the innovations in the aviation industry, allowing a more pleasant passenger experience.
Great customer service is an absolute must in order to achieve passenger satisfaction and loyalty amongst customers.
Airlines such as Etihad Airways offer all long-haul flight passengers a Sleep Tight amenity kit including socks, a toothbrush, earplugs, and an eye mask that passengers can wear to notify staff not to wake them up for meals. Additionally, landing securely in 8th place as a Travellers Choice airline, Qatar Airlines are seemingly noted for their excellent, customer friendly service:
Consistently, Qatar receives great reviews regarding their customer service and quirky touches that ensure passenger satisfaction; however, most aviation experiences are designed to cater for the business or first class passenger first and foremost, which leaves room for improvement.
Aviation companies with poor reviews are not designing equally for all customers, but nevertheless this can change.
For example: by giving the customer a great experience during their entire consumer journey (being serviced by an airline), ensuring the focus is shifted towards welcoming, entertaining and supporting the passenger, as well as orchestrating experiences for your customer depending on their traveling spectrum, an airline will be providing great qualities and rich customer satisfaction.
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