A new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index showed that airlines scored lowest among 47 industries in the US.
Bag fees – something unheard of five years ago – are one of the big reasons customers aren’t happy, along with other fees, higher fuel prices, and the usual crowd winner: poor service.
Hotels, on the other hand, seem to be in their heyday. Guest satisfaction is up 2.7% from last year – could that have something to do with all their great deals, like discounts for showing your birth certificate or a combo rate to get inked by the hotel’s tattoo artist by the beach?
Is the travel industry as a whole starting to spin out of control? Soaring oil prices and a brutal economy have impacted airlines in particular over the last several years. In many ways, 9/11 changed everything, not only because of the initial reluctance of people to fly after the tragedy, but also because of the strict guidelines put into place in airports ever since. These have made delays and cancellations skyrocket.
But consumer advocate Christopher Elliott recently wrote about the new ways airlines, cruise lines, and other travel outlets are starting to handle customer issues with delays and canceled trips. Some airlines are emailing compensation to travelers before they even get off the plane if they’ve experienced a delay. Often, this comes in the form of frequent flier miles or discounts on future tickets.
Are these tactics enough to save the airline industry in the long run? It’s hard to say. For now, we certainly are a disgruntled bunch, and we’re letting the researchers know it.