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Flying Public Unconvinced Airlines Have Improved

Purdue University Survey Shows Passengers Want To Be Heard

This year's Airline Passenger Survey confirms that customer service is the most important consideration for air travel consumers. Airlines like Southwest who push a service-oriented message continue to score highest in passenger-friendliness for consumers in this ongoing study by Airline Quality Rating researchers. The survey gathers passengers' perceptions and opinions regarding U.S. airlines in addition to providing a forum to express concerns. The goal is to capture passengers' perceptions and experiences with U.S. airlines to more completely understand how perceptions of outcome and actual performance are at odds.

Airline passenger survey researcher Erin Bowen of Purdue University reports, "more than 50 percent of frequent fliers say air travel has gotten worse for them in the past year, despite the fact that overall airline quality performance has risen as measured in the recently released Airline Quality Rating."  Bowen said "airlines are doing a poor job of conveying quality performance and improvements to passengers in areas such as on-time arrival rates and baggage handling as evidenced by a continued 4-year decline in passengers' perceptions of the air travel experience."

As the nation's most comprehensive study of airline performance and quality, the Airline Quality Rating sets the industry standard, providing consumers and industry watchers a means to compare performance among airlines using objective outcome-based data. For the past four years, airline passengers have also expressed their opinions and experiences to AQR researchers via an online survey.

AQR co-researchers Dean Headley of Wichita State University and Brent Bowen of Purdue University say that this year's Airline Quality Report (April 2, 2012) marks the highest level of operational performance quality among U.S. airlines for the last two decades.

"Consumer perceptions are shaped by past experiences," said Headley.  "Small, often unnoticeable, outcome improvements do not get included into consumers mindset very quickly."

More than 4,000 consumers have completed the survey. "Passengers who have written complaints to the airlines are invited to share them in the survey to aid the on-going research effort and to advocate for airline passengers rights," says Brent Bowen. Researchers strongly encourage airline passengers to say what they think and share their experiences.

FMI: www.purdue.edu/aqr

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