The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published its latest UK Aviation Consumer Survey, which indicates that overall satisfaction with flying has fallen. The survey is intended to help determine consumer behavior and attitudes regarding flying among the UK public, which is used to help put consumer interest at the heart of its regulatory activity.
This survey of a demographically representative sample of 3,500 UK adults is the fifth of its kind to be carried out in the last two years by the CAA, which states that the results showed that passengers were found to be particularly unhappy with how airports and airlines respond to disruptions and delays.
According to the CAA the survey also suggests “significant” regional differences in consumer satisfaction with the overall travel experience during their last flight, with people in Wales, the East Midlands and the East of England less satisfied than those in the North East, Scotland and the North West.
Tim Johnson, director at the CAA, said: “Although satisfaction remains high at 83%, our last two surveys have shown a reduction from 90%. Delays and disruption can be caused by a range of different factors. Some of these are within the control of airlines, and some are not. Whatever the cause, these delays can be frustrating for passengers. We expect airlines to always provide prompt and accurate information, and if passengers are entitled to further care and compensation, this should be provided without delay.”
Overall satisfaction trends
The percentage of consumers who reported they were satisfied with the overall travel experience during their last flight dropped from 90% in the spring 2016 survey, to 83% in the latest spring 2018 survey.
One of the key identified drivers of consumer satisfaction is their experience on board the aircraft. CAA analysis shows this element of the journey has the strongest impact on levels of satisfaction compared to other aspects. The survey found that passengers are typically less satisfied with the inflight experience than other aspects of flying. The CAA also states that consumers have become less satisfied with their experience on board since the survey began, with 81% satisfied in spring 2016, compared to 77% in the latest survey.
There are also regional differences in overall satisfaction. For example, a higher proportion of passengers flying from the north east of England are satisfied with their flight (89%) compared to in the east Midlands (76%) and in Wales (78%).
Signs of improvement
The results are not all negative though, with the survey finding that the aviation industry is making progress in terms of how it responds to complaints and handles passenger grievances. 50% of consumers are now confident of fair treatment should things go wrong, up 6% from autumn (fall) 2017, and satisfaction with complaint handling is at its highest recorded level, with 64% of those consumers who made a complaint happy with the process, up from 53% in the same period.