[Consumer study] How do consumers choose airlines?
We wanted to find out: How do consumers choose airlines? Is price most important, comfort, the route, or maybe the loyalty program? This study of U.S. consumers has the answers.
We completed the entire study of 100 respondents through Voxpopme’s community of on-demand consumers in five hours.
We combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study in the platform, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.
As a screener question, we asked:
When was the last time you traveled by airplane?
- This week (advances into the survey)
- This month (advances into the survey)
- In the past year (advances into the survey)
- More than a year ago
On the quantitative side, we asked:
How do you pick your airline?
- Direct route
- Loyalty program
On the qualitative side, we asked:
- What are the main factors you consider when choosing an airline?
- Tell us why those factors are the most important and which was the last airline you used considering these factors.
The quant results
Fifty-one percent of travelers say they choose their airline by price, 17 want a direct route, 14 percent make comfort a priority, 9 percent of consumers choose airlines based on the schedule. Eight percent mentioned loyalty programs.
The qual results
The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 38 percent of all statements were positive, with 43 percent neutral and 19 percent negative.
Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.
The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.
At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.
Then I skim through the automatic transcripts and each response.
For some consumers, the decision also didn’t come down to one or the other. Price was important, but so was the routing, for some as they considered choosing an airline.
For many, it’s a hierarchy. For example, a convenient schedule was important but once that was in place, consumers were looking for a fair price.
Some consumers mentioned customer service in their spoken responses as being important. Others mentioned the need to be on time.
“I don’t want delays. I don’t want airlines that cancel their flights all the time,” said Jennifer, 48, of Kansas City.
Sometimes the choice depends on which airline hub a consumer lives nearby.
“So the schedule is a big one for me,” said Joe, 38. “I like to have as few layovers as possible, and a lot of airlines they only make the trip I want to take every couple of days. I’m in Salt Lake, which is a hub for Delta. So I often end up on Delta, but price is always a big one.”
And it’s not only about the time onboard but the whole travel experience.
“When picking an airline, my main factors would be price, schedule, comfort,” said Megan, 31 of Gastonia. “And I guess on comfort, not just on the plane but also at the airport.”
Read next: What are conversational insights?
Where to next?
As a follow-up study, it might make sense to dive deeper into each category:
- What do you consider a good price?
- When it comes to comfort, what aspects are most important? Leg room, seat width, amenities, airport lounges, etc.
- What specifically could improve the loyalty program?