How Good Is Your Airline?
Two professors analyze the stats.
- By Craig Mellow
- Air & Space magazine, May 2010
Courtesy Jet Blue, Delta and American Airlines: Photo-Illustration By Theo
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Consumer Reports, J.D. Power and Associates, and other rivals rely on “a more perceptual base” that lets subjectivity creep in, Headley says.
Does the Rating have a dollars-and-cents impact on the airlines? That’s hard to gauge. “Business travelers bring in maybe 80 percent of the revenue, and their companies have block agreements with one airline or another,” says Helane Becker, an analyst who follows the industry at Jesup & Lamont, an investment house in New York. “Leisure travelers just look for cost and convenience.” A top finish is a source of pride nonetheless. When AirTran took first place in 2007, the company suspended operations for 15 minutes at the home airport in Atlanta and called employees onto the tarmac to salute one another. At AirTran gates across the U.S., banners were hung proclaiming the news.
For a carrier wanting that sort of pride, Headley says, everyone from the top executive to the ground crew must commit to the customer. And, he adds, nothing enrages passengers more than a shrug of no-information when they’re pinned at an airport gate or on a taxiway. “I flew home last Sunday,” he says, “and it was 40 minutes past departure time before they made any announcements. That might make people walk away from an airline.”
Bowen and Headley announced the 2009 results on April 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Read their report here.
Craig Mellow is a New York-based writer.