According to a recent MarketTools study on travelers’ flying experiences over the past six months, 43% of the passengers were not specifically “satisfied” with comfort aboard the plane, 41% were not satisfied with ticket prices and fees, and 34% were not satisfied with in-flight service.

The study also showed that a growing number of travelers are using social media channels to voice their complaints about airlines. Ten percent of respondents have used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to share complaints about poor airline experiences. However, only 24% of those who communicated their complaints through social media received a response directly from the airline, indicating that airlines should be paying much closer attention to the voice of the customer in social media channels.

“Despite the fact that dissatisfaction with key elements of airline travel remains high, our study reveals that only 30% of travelers had ever been asked to provide feedback to an airline via a customer survey or other means, and of those customers who offered feedback, 75% did not receive any type of follow-up from the airline,” said Justin Schuster, vice president of enterprise products at MarketTools, Inc. “This represents an opportunity for airlines to do a better job of gathering passenger feedback and closing the loop on customer interactions. Solutions such as MarketTools CustomerSat give leading companies the tools they need to capture, analyze, and take action on customer feedback to give them the insights they need to make improvements that foster satisfaction and loyalty, leading to better business results.”

Surprisingly, despite the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) efforts to improve the airline passenger experience by enacting the airline passenger protection rules more than a year ago, commonly referred to as the Passenger Bill of Rights, the majority of passengers surveyed (55%) were unaware of these airline passenger protection rules. Moreover, of the 45% who are aware of the Passenger Bill of Rights, more than half (55%) were unaware of the recent changes to the airline passenger protection rules that took effect just last month.

The top five issues experienced by respondents include:

  • Lack of notification about flight delays of more than 30 minutes (28%)
  •  Incorrect/inadequate information about flight delays (24%)
  • Lengthy aircraft delay on the tarmac (more than three hours without deplaning) (18%)
  • Lack of airline response to a complaint about flight delays or cancellations (14%)
  •  Hidden fees/unexpected fees added during the ticket-buying process (14%)

When asked which domestic airline the respondents believed provided the best customer service, Southwest Airlines was cited most often, followed by Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airlines. American Airlines and Continental Airlines tied for fourth place.

[Source:  Study conducted by MarketTools Inc.  25 May 2011.  Web.  28 June 2011.]