A major independent global study released earlier appeals to the airline industry to take a fresh look at the age-old frustration of delayed or cancelled flights, in order to drive loyalty and reduce the impact of irregular operations on its customers, both now and in the future.
‘Passengers first: Re-thinking irregular operations’, written by Norm Rose of travel industry research authority PhoCusWright, and commissioned by Amadeus, aims to provide airlines with practical strategies to improve responses to irregular operations, urging airlines to place a greater focus on the impact of disruptions on each passenger’s trip experience as part of operational decision-making during times of disruption.
The report argues that a customer-centric approach to handling irregular operations may overcome some of the disparities between how airlines and passengers can sometimes perceive delays.
For instance, providing greater alternative travel choices for travellers that take into account their individual reasons for travelling, which in turn could positively affect future booking behaviour.
At the same time, the processes used to manage delays and cancellations today, including scheduling, customer communications and re-accommodation, often tend to be flight-centric, rather than customer-centric; something which the report argues must change.
The study, which is based on interviews with leading academics, industry trade organisations and global airlines, also includes a survey of 2,800 travellers from Australia, Brazil, China, the UK, and the US, showing that delayed or cancelled flights meant that nearly one in five of all passengers surveyed could not fulfil the purpose of a trip booked in the past year (rising to a third in China).
Furthermore, among passengers’ most common frustrations was insufficient communication, something which may impact a traveller’s loyalty to a particular airline in the future.
Global airline passengers’ most common frustrations:
- There was insufficient communication about what was happening.
- Not offered any compensation.
- Conflicting communication about what was happening.
- Not able to fully achieve the original purpose of my trip due to the flight issue.
- Having to pay additional costs for alternative arrangements.
Patricia Simillon, head of airlines operations strategy, airline IT, Amadeus IT Group, commented: “This report tells us that at times of disruption, perhaps the first question an airline might ask is not how it can shift travellers from a cancelled flight to another, but rather how the delay impacts that person and their unique reason for travelling.
“To this end, there is a strong argument that passenger insight and choice should be integrated into the irregular operations process.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our global airline partners in order to help them to refine, refocus and maximise their irregular operations procedures.”