November 30, 2010: Zagat release survey about Consumer attitudes towards Airlines and Flying . Conducted on ZAGAT.com, the survey is based on over 8,000 frequent fliers who collectively took 139,300 flights in the past year.
Economy: While the industry continues to feel the effects of the recession, it has shown signs of recovery this year. Surveyors reported taking an average of 17.4 flights in 2010, which is up from 16.6 flights in 2009 and 16.3 in 2008. This is still below the all-time high of 19.7 in 2007. Business flights continue to outweigh leisure, by roughly 3-to-2.
Checking-In: When asked how they react to fees for checked luggage, 45% of surveyors say they try to avoid flying such airlines; 42% say they have frequent flyer status on an airline that waves luggage fees; 33% say they travel only with a carry-on and 18% grudgingly opt to pay the fees. Southwest Airlines is a favorite among surveyors, winning Best Check-in Experience, as well as Best Luggage Policy, Best Consumer On-Time Estimates, Top Website and Best Value among domestic airlines.
"While fliers are slowly but surely returning to the skies, they remain focused on good values and reliable service," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "Airlines like Virgin America, Southwest, JetBlue and Continental score well with surveyors for precisely this reason."
Flying High: For the third year in a row, Continental is the Top Overall winner among large domestic airlines for its premium service. JetBlue took top honors among large economy class carriers. Virgin America is the top mid-sized carrier for both classes, earning 24 on Zagat's 30-point scale for its premium service, and 21 for economy. International carriers continue to outperform domestic airlines. Singapore Airlines, the perennial winner, earned an impressive 28 rating for international premium class airlines and 24 for international economy service. Other international winners were Cathay Pacific Airways,Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways, all rated a 26 for premium services.
Choice Factors: When choosing a flight, respondents' main considerations are not surprising: direct routes (65%), ticket price (55%), past experiences (50%), time of day (48%) and seat comfort/leg room (46%). If a meal is not offered on the flight, and most aren't, 55% of surveyors opt to purchase food in the airport, while 18% bring food from home.
Just a few of the comments that were comical, which Zagat published:
- PBS...paralyzed butt syndrome!
- The only difference between economy and business classes is a shrimp on your salad.
- "Unwelcome aboard!"
- Not sure if I really want to know that Captain Skippy is flying today.
- I don't love getting up-close-and-personal with the head of the person in front of me .
- Who made them mad at their customers?
- Point a to point b with a bag of pretzels.
- Entree selections should be labeled "choose your poison"
- When two crummy medium-size airlines merge, all you get is a crummy large airline.
- Seats make an iron maiden seem comfortable.
- Like a cattle car, except the cows are mercifully slaughtered at trip's end.