UK travellers value choice, convenience and the ability to change their mind when it comes to booking air travel and may switch their airline as a result, according to a new report from Amadeus e-Travel. Following the price war offensive brought on by the low-cost carriers, savvy consumers are increasingly looking for airlines that put them in control - of their booking; their in-flight meal; their seat and the ability to change all of these options as and when they choose.
After price and schedule, more than half (54 per cent) of UK travellers cited the ability to book flights online as a top priority when choosing which airline to fly. And proving that the way to many people’s hearts is through their stomachs, more than a third of travellers (35%) said they would switch airline if given the chance to change in-flight options, such as meal and seat selection, online - providing there was no drastic difference in price or scheduling. According to the research, women (36%) appear to be more fickle than men (33%) when it comes to changing their mind based on these options.
Ian Wheeler, MD of Amadeus e-Travel and Vice President of Marketing at Amadeus commented: “With new airlines entering the market almost on a weekly basis, increased competition and simpler fare structures have ensured that airfares have tumbled across the board. However, as low fares become the norm, extra services that airlines offer their passengers become a key differentiator.”
Growing queues at the airport only add to the number of people who now check-in online. One in four people (26%) say that, if pricing and scheduling were roughly equal, they would change their choice of airline to one that offers online check-in prior to arriving at the airport. More seasoned travellers (over 50’s) most definitely favour checking in at home (30 per cent) than their more youthful 18-29 year-old counterparts (22 per cent). The ability to check-in online would also persuade more people in London and Scotland (30%) to switch airlines than travellers in the Midlands and Wales (24%).
Other factors likely to impact on UK travellers’ choice of airline included the ability to review the costs and availability to upgrade to a higher seat class (25 per cent) and the ability to change the time and date of flights online, post-booking (17 per cent)
Wheeler added: “UK travellers are increasingly adopting a ‘DIY’ attitude to travelling. Our research suggests that travellers can be quite fickle when it comes to choosing their travel provider. No longer is it enough for airlines to offer a good fare - this is now a given. What today’s travellers want are a variety of additional value-added services which puts them more control of their travel experience.
““With the majority of these services grounded in technology, such as online check-in, seat selection and the ability to make changes after reservation, there is a real opportunity for airlines to get smart about effective customer service. So as more and more airlines compete to win the loyalty of their passengers, technology has never more so been at the forefront of differentiating the travel experience for today’s discerning traveller.”
And finally as e-tickets become the norm for UK travellers, barely a fifth of those surveyed (21%) said being able to have an electronic ticket would influence their decision to switch carriers if price and scheduled were roughly equal.