Airfarewatchdog 2010 Survey: Flyers Say 'Give Us the Basics -- Enough With the Fees'

Southwest Airlines Also a Favorite for Overall Value and Friendliest Flight Attendants

Jun 15, 2010, 08:20 ET from Airfarewatchdog

BOSTON, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Airfarewatchdog™ today announced the results of its 2010 survey of more than 2,100 savvy flyers.  Respondents answered that they want the "good old days" back -- and the requests they're making are for formerly standard, free amenities: Snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, clean cabins, pillows, and blankets.  They are willing to pay for some amenities, such as alcohol and Internet, and said that airfare price tops airline brand when booking a flight.  Southwest Airlines scored top marks over other airlines, getting "Best Bang for Your Buck" and "Friendliest Flight Attendants."

The Flyers' Manifesto -- "Here's What We Want For Free"

Though indicating that they'd be willing to pay more for certain things while doing anything to avoid paying fees, survey respondents said there were definitely comfort features that airlines should be offering for free:

  • Non-alcoholic drinks (69%)
  • Clean bathrooms (87%)
  • Clean blankets and pillows (63%)
  • Anti-germ products (46%)

"Industry observers think that airlines may return to profitability this year or next, so maybe they'll be able to provide some of the creature comforts they took away in the lean years," says Airfarewatchdog founder George Hobica. "However, passengers will have to compete with labor unions, who will also be looking to regain some of the wages and benefits they gave up when the industry was at its low point."

"We'll Pay for Some Amenities -- But Don't Push Us"

Flyers taking the survey indicated that while they think airlines should offer a range of complimentary items, (28% won't pay for anything extra onboard), most are willing to pay extra for alcoholic drinks (31%), Internet (21%), and extra legroom (18%).  Less than 1% said they'd pay for a pillow or blanket.

"I'll Do Anything to Avoid a Fee -- Even if It Means An Additional Connection"

Saving money was a resounding theme: When asked what they disliked most about flying, Airfarewatchdog respondents overwhelmingly said paying fees (36%).  And, given the opportunity, 68% of respondents said they would fly at an inconvenient time of day with an additional connection in order to avoid fees; 32% said they would bite the bullet and pay the extra money to fly at a convenient time.  62% also said they would forego a carry-on bag in order to avoid a fee.

What Matters When Booking a Flight?

  • Price (85% said it was extremely important)
  • Airline brand (30% said it was extremely important)

Southwest Scores Big With "Best Bang for Your Buck" and "Friendliest Flight Attendants"

Southwest Airlines came in first (36%) when the survey asked which airline provides the most bang for your buck, over JetBlue (13%) and Continental (6%), among others.  Southwest's flight attendants were voted the friendliest (39%), with Delta/Northwest (8.1%), JetBlue (6.9%), and American (4.6%) following.  And when asked what the nicest thing a flight attendant has ever done for them, 38% of respondents said a free upgrade while 31% said a free drink.  Many other responses centered around helping passengers with injuries and children and re-arranging seats for significant others.  

Delta/Northwest, United, and American in the Dog House for Least Friendly Flight Attendants and Worst Food

Who did the survey respondents say has the rudest flight attendants? Delta/Northwest (23%), United (18%), and American (14%).  When asked which airline has served the worst food over the past 12 months, Delta/Northwest (20%) again led the pack, followed by United (15%) and American (15%).  Continental was the only U.S. airline to come in the top five when asked which airline has served the best food over the past 12 months, scoring the highest at 10%, followed by Lufthansa (8%), Singapore (8%), British Airways (7%), and Air France (6.5%).  

The "No Politics" Sign is Now Turned On

When given the choice of who they'd least like to sit next to during a flight, flyers overwhelmingly chose Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Pelosi, and Sarah Palin (a combined 73%) over Jon Gosselin (6%), Heidi Montag (6%), a co-worker (5%), your in-laws (4%), your high school gym teacher, (3%) and Tiger Woods (3%).  

Tell It To The CEO -- The Tail Wags the Dog

When asked what they would tell the CEO of their favorite airline, respondents' comments reflected the survey results and repeatedly touched upon improving overall in-flight comfort, improving customer service, and eliminating fees.

Some Specific Excerpts:

  • "Feed us food you'd eat yourself."
  • "Listen to your customers -- they can tell you more about your airline than you'll ever know."
  • "Flying is stressful for everyone involved -- a smile from a flight attendant goes a long way."
  • "Passengers should be your priority with anything because you wouldn't have a job if not for the passengers."

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SOURCE Airfarewatchdog