Study shows what Americans want from their airlines

Clean cabins, more space top the list 

A survey of more than 8,000 air travelers in 10 countries shows what travelers want most in their air travel experience. The results may surprise you.

The study, conducted by the Neilsen market research institute, surveyed 8,150 travelers from China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, the U.A.E., the U.K. and the U.S. who had taken an airline trip in the last two years. After being tallied, the results of the online poll were parsed by the countries of the respondents.

Favorite in-flight factors

For U.S. air travelers, the most important in-flight factor is the cleanliness of the cabin and lavatory (96 percent). Other highly important factors for passengers include friendly, attentive and accessible staff (94 percent); wider seat spacing in all classes (93 percent); quality food and beverage options (92 percent); and console screen on the back of the seat for entertainment and information (90 percent).

Business Class seat aboard Emirates A380

The survey showed that 89 percent of travelers are opposed to airlines allowing mobile phone usage while flying, largely over concerns about others’ conversations being a nuisance and/or disturbing. As technology has improved to allow charging and more online connectivity, that opposition to cell coverage has continued to grow since it was first measured in 2015.

But it’s not as if people don’t want to stay connected; they do. More than three-fourths of respondents (77 percent) did expect Internet connectivity.

When it comes to booking a mid or long-haul flight, the most important aspect for passengers in the U.S. are non-stop flights (93 percent), established good service on board in economy class (92 percent), maximum of one stopover (89 percent) and services offered by airlines’ frequent flyer program (81 percent).

With regard to airline recommendations, respondents rely heavily on their own experiences (79 percent), but also consider the feedback they receive from friends and family (62 percent) as well as travel blogger reviews (27 percent).

Importantly, in these times of ever-increasing nickel-and-dime charges, more than half of airline passengers (60 percent) prefer booking all–inclusive instead of paying for a cheaper priced ticket (40 percent), then adding on extras. This is particularly important in light of the airline industry’s position that passengers actually like paying a la carte charges.

The most important service on the ground for passengers is an uncomplicated delivery service for lost luggage (91 percent).

Pre-Flight Preferences

The three most important aspects for passengers while waiting at the gate are timely information about delays and their reasons (96 percent), free charging stations for devices such as laptop or mobile phones (90 percent) and comfortable chairs (89 percent).

Increasingly, passengers are seeking online check-in options via mobile apps or smartphone (57 percent) and online check-in via the internet three days before departure (53 percent), rather than the improvements in physical check-in. Online check-in opportunities are especially requested by very frequent fliers.

Phones in flight?

While the majority of airline passengers in U.S. are opposed to airlines allowing mobile phone usage during flight because of the potential nuisance and disturbance, the rate of passengers in favor of allowing mobile phone usage in flight is significantly higher in other countries. In India, 73 percent were in favor, in China 70 percent were O.K. with the idea, and 63 percent of UAE passengers said it was fine. The global average is 51 percent.

Turkish Airlines A320
Photo provided by Turkish Airlines

The Turkish Airlines Aviation Trends Survey was sponsored by Turkish Airlines, which continues to increase its presence in U.S. markets. The survey was conducted from February 16-26, 2018.

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Photo by Carl Dombek unless otherwise noted
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