Dissatisfaction in the Skies: Airline Passengers Ready to Bail Out.
PlanetFeedback.com Finds Consumers Are Irked By Poor Service, Lost Bags And
CINCINNATI, May 8 -- Continuing problems with the nation's major airlines are
taking a toll on consumers, some of whom are so frustrated with botched flights
and poor customer service that they're ready to switch to other airlines.
Those are the findings from PlanetFeedback.com, a leading online consumer
feedback service, which indicate that 62 percent of nearly 13,000 letters
recently sent to airlines through PlanetFeedback.com are complaints.
Three issues in particular -- poor customer service, shoddy baggage handling
and poor on-time performance -- severely threaten passenger loyalty, increasing
the likelihood that they will take their business elsewhere. These findings
come at a time when airlines are under federal scrutiny to improve customer
``The industry can't afford to loose valuable customers at a time when airline
mergers are looming and Congress is threatening to step in,'' says Pete
Blackshaw, PlanetFeedback CEO and founder. ``Consumers demand good service and
if they don't get it, they will switch carriers, and, in some cases, their mode
On the positive side, PlanetFeedback's analysis indicates that the positive
efforts of a single employee -- usually a flight attendant -- can soothe the
negative opinions of unsatisfied passengers. In fact, positive efforts by
airline employees are far more likely to make customers remain loyal and
encourage positive word-of-mouth behavior about an airline than other
controllable issues. Compliments represent 25 percent of airline feedback;
questions and suggestions account for 13 percent.
Passengers' top complaints
Top complaints from airline passengers include on-time performance (12
percent), followed by customer service (11 percent), baggage claim (8 percent),
staff performance (8 percent), frequent-flyer program hassles (5 percent) and
check-in problems (5 percent). Several of those issues -- baggage claim, staff
performance and flight attendants -- are more ``viral'' than others, meaning
consumers are more likely to discuss them with others.
For example, more than 80 percent of feedback about baggage involves lost
luggage, an emotionally charged issue that people are highly likely to discuss
with friends, family and co-workers. Overall treatment by airline employees
also ranks high on the word-of-mouth meter.
Among the major carriers with the highest volume of feedback, Southwest
Airlines ranks highest with consumers, driven by compliments around flight
attendants and staff attitude/performance. Spirit, America Trans Air and
AirTran Airways are ranked lowest, with high customer dissatisfaction around
on-time performance and overall customer service. The major carriers, including
American, Delta, Northwest and United, averaged a ``C'' grade among consumers.
While receiving lower overall volumes of feedback, smaller carriers such as
Aloha Airlines (A), Midwest Express (A-), and newcomer Jet Blue (A) are faring
extremely well with PlanetFeedback users, receiving special praise for
amenities such as food service, aircraft interior and check-in process.
In a mood to switch airlines
Of the issues mentioned above, poor customer service, staff performance and
baggage claim are far more likely than other common airline complaints to cause
consumers to switch to another airline. In fact, in a PlanetFeedback.com
analysis of ``loyalty threateners'' -- issues that are severe enough to
threaten customer loyalty -- those issues ranked above the base 100 index for
all complaints, with customer service at 110, staff performance at 107, baggage
claim at 106.
On-time performance elicited specific problems, with 25 percent of complaints
coming from passengers who were not informed or were not notified ahead of time
when a flight was delayed, canceled or rerouted. Another 20 percent of on-time
complaints came from passengers who were stuck in a waiting airplane on the
Consumers have a few good ideas
While consumers' primary desire for airline travel is for airlines to get them
-- and their luggage -- where they're going safely and on time, with courteous
treatment along the way, they do offer up a few suggestions on how airlines can
increase customer loyalty and satisfaction overall:
-- Better policies or more reasonable structures for bereavement fares or
last-minute fares for people who need to tend to a loved one who is
sick or dying.
-- Improved frequent flyer programs. Many consumers complained that
they're not able to cash in their frequent flyer miles because
eligible seats are never available.
-- Random upgrades to first class for all coach ticket holders, suggested
by a passenger who said the randomness of upgrading coach passengers
to plush surroundings in first class would be an incentive to continue
booking with an airline in hopes of "winning" such treatment.
Founded in October 1999 and recently nominated for a prestigious 2001 Webby
Award in the Best Services category, PlanetFeedback.com offers consumers a
quick, easy and free way to register a complaint, compliment, question or
suggestion with a company. Aggregated data collected in the feedback process is
fed into a database, allowing in-depth analysis and key measurements on
consumer attitudes, customer satisfaction, loyalty and ``viral power.'' More
than 300,000 letters have been routed through www.planetfeedback.com since its
launch in February 2000. PlanetFeedback.com is the only consumer feedback site
with both TRUSTe and BBBOnLine privacy certification. PlanetFeedback also
offers services that help businesses better understand and respond to consumer
needs, including BrandPulse(TM), a which provides deep analysis for companies
on customer satisfaction and the ``virality'' (word-of-mouth behavior) of
consumers who send company feedback via the Web. Consumers can reach
PlanetFeedback through its home page or through over 900 Web sites, including
CNNfn.com, Epinions.com, Oxygen.com, and many others
PlanetFeedback, BrandPulse and the PlanetFeedback logo are trademarks of
PlanetFeedback's Ratings are report cards on companies and industries based on
our users' opinions.
To learn more about how we compile our ratings, see
The airline industry at a glance: PlanetFeedback.com Analysis
How Airlines Stack Up
Airline Name PlanetFeedback.com Rating*
Southwest Airlines B
Virgin Atlantic Airways B
Vanguard Airlines B
Lufthansa German Airlines B
Alaska Airlines B-
British Airways B-
Midway Airlines C+
Continental Airlines C+
US Airways C+
Air France C
American Airlines C
Delta Airlines C
Northwest Airlines C
United Airlines C
Air Canada C
Trans World Airlines C
America West C
AirTran Airways C
American Trans Air C-
Spirit Airlines D+
What passengers complain about....
Top Airline Complaints From PlanetFeedback.com
Frequent Flyer programs
... and what they rave about
Top Airline Compliments From PlanetFeedback.com
Phone Customer Service
MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - at:
This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard. What incentive would there be
for loyalty if every carrier gave out such a "lottery"?
Most flights take off with frequent fliers, and the airline that prefers FFs
over non-FFs for upgrades will ensure that those passengers - the highest
revenue generators - stay loyal.
If you don't like CO, then there's DL. They irritate you, then you try NW.
And so on.
Even if the mergers DON'T go through, there'll still be 8 major airlines.
Only 8 tries, and you don't have anybody left!!!
Not that I'm sayin' its stupid, just that there's always a mis-fitting
relationship between some consumers and some products. CO is hated by many,
and loved by that many or more. Ditto for WN, and NW, and DL, and US, and
UA, and AA, and TW, and F9, and TZ, and...
Heh. Sometimes, it's just funny to read how the airlines are screwed up so
bad, except for WN. Yet it seems that WN gets little respect. Something
about no FC or their cow based boarding system...
Really, these kind of posts/articles/stories are quite strange. People want
Greyhound Bus or Amtrak pricing, and Norwegien or Carnival Cruise First
Class Service. Are we all that dumb? Or are we just plain cheap asses?
At least with the bus and train, they make you put your bags near the
baggage compartment, then get them out by yourselves. There's the end of
the lost baggage, maybe. With all the security, that'll never happen at
airports. Why? Because the OVERWHELMING majority of us in this WORLD,
that's right ON EARTH, cannot stop the minimal amount of people that committ
terroristic and/or vandalizing acts. Not that I wanna get shot, but can't
we just find every last one of these idiots who thinks that blowing up an
airplane or building or just another person is a good idea and stop them?
No. I guess that's the answer. Sorry I asked.
Anyway. It's funny, in a sad kinda way.
."Flying is easy... buying (cheap) tickets, that's hard."
"Captain" <cap...@airlines.ww> wrote in message
"Rugby Blue" <nos...@ever.no> wrote in message
>People want... [snip]
>Carnival Cruise First
Ahem, I believe "Carnival Cruise First Class" is an oxymoron.
"Skip Elliott Bowman" <skip...@teleport.com> wrote in message
>Even on a space available basis - would you rather give the sole seat left
>to an FF or a non-FF? As a good business decision?
To the non-FF to encourage them to become an FF?
And what affect would this have on the current FF's??
As a FF, I certainly would choose one that didn't offer a lottery for
upgrades over one that does.
Why should the person who travels once or twice per year be more
entitled to it?
:>On Mon, 14 May 2001 13:14:04 -0400, "Rugby Blue" <nos...@ever.no>
To encourage someone who flies frequently to stick with us or take a shot in
This is the problem. I've been ready to "switch" from Delta for about
4 years now. First time I did, I used US and they lost my luggage
for two days. Continental ended up being no better than Delta, and had
fewer flight choices from here. UA, well, it was a bad year to try UA.
NW? Late every flight I took, and lied about it at one point. One can
try to switch, but the result can be going to another airline that's gonna
treat you just as bad if not worse.
I'm holding out hope that Midwest Express starts expanding their
routes out of here.