Low prices might play a role in flight selection, but when it comes to overall passenger satisfaction on international routes, in-flight entertainment and food-and-beverage options are more important, according to a new study from the consumer intelligence and analytics company J.D. Power.
The 2019 Airline International Destination Satisfaction Study surveyed more than 6,000 passengers on international flights from North America to Europe and from North America to Asia. Traveler satisfaction was measured on nine factors: in-flight services, costs and fees, aircraft, flight crew, check-in process, boarding process, immigration, baggage handling and reservation process. The findings show more than half of the passengers’ overall satisfaction on flights to Europe and Asia is determined by food and beverage.
"A low fare may be the best way to attract a first-time international passenger, but retaining passengers on routes to Europe and Asia is all about delighting customers with great in-flight experiences," said Michael Taylor, senior director of travel and hospitality intelligence at J.D. Power, in a statement. "One of the most powerful ways to do that is with food-and-beverage offerings that are unique to the airline’s culture and that manage to deliver flavor at altitude, where it has been proven that taste buds grow less sensitive."
But airlines have room for improvement when it comes to the meals they serve. According to the study, in-flight entertainment has a higher satisfaction score than food and beverage -- 53 points higher on flights to Europe and 22 points higher on flights to Asia (on a 1,000-point scale).
The survey also analyzed the factors that sway passengers when they choose an airline, with past experience coming out on top (40 percent). Good customer service (36 percent), convenient scheduling (35 percent), reputation (33 percent) and lower ticket price (31 percent) are also important elements passengers consider before booking.
The study also ranked the airlines offering service from North America to Europe and Asia. Turkish Airlines ranked no. 1 for passengers traveling from North America to Europe. The airline received 833 points out of 1,000, with Virgin Atlantic close behind with 829. British Airways and Delta Airlines tied for third place at 815.
On the North America to Asia route, Japan Airlines took the number one spot with 869 points. Delta Airlines came in second at 861 points and Korea Air ranked third for passenger satisfaction with 854 points.