Airlines struggle to please passengers

Airlines are struggling to keep pace with the finicky desires of today’s passengers, many of whom are constantly connected to a mobile device and want something special on each trip.



By (AFP)

Published: Fri 12 Jun 2015, 12:09 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:45 PM

Miami - What does the modern air traveller want? Is it the perfect sized carry-on? A wearable device that tells you how to avoid jet lag? Free Wi-Fi? Cheap flights? Better service?

Airlines are struggling to keep pace with the finicky desires of today’s passengers, many of whom are constantly connected to a mobile device and want something special on each trip.

During a panel discussion on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), hundreds of industry representatives were asked in a quick informal poll how many think airlines are doing a good job meeting passenger demands. Fifty-five per cent pressed “no” on their handheld devices.

So, what should airlines be doing differently?

“Don’t give me a vanilla experience,” said panelist Lee McCabe, a former executive with Expedia who is now Facebook’s head of travel. “Make the information you give me very personal,” he said. “Make my life easy.”

Alex Cruz, CEO of the low-cost Spanish airline Vueling, said his company strives to keep it simple. “They want a nice, reliable experience at a normal price,” he said. The key to keeping passengers happy is “managing expectations,” he added.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said “every customer wants something different”. The key to an individual experience is allowing passengers to decide on which perks they receive, he said. “Let them decide what they want. Let them pay for what they want,” he said.

According to Jen Durkin, CEO of Project Travel, millennials don’t want healthy snacks or free Wi-Fi. “Millennials are curious, and because there are so many things that distract our attention, we need help understanding what we should put our attention to,” she said.

For instance, she suggested airlines offer passengers a behind-the-scenes view of their suitcase as it moves through the airport machinery. “I want to know what my bag is doing from the time it goes in the conveyor belt little door to the time it comes out of the conveyor belt,” Durkin said.

Since delays cost airlines money, Delta is working on its own way of speeding up the boarding process by having its crew members load passenger carry-ons ahead of the flight. The service, called Early Valet, is free for now and began this month at certain US airports.

 


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