Business travel accounts for about 18% of total domestic airline travel in the U.S., and 22% of these trips are for business event purposes, such as conventions, conferences or seminars. That means 4% of total domestic U.S. airline travel is attributed to the by business event programs organized by meeting and event planners. This, according to domestic travel facts statistics from the Travel Industry Association.
With increased ticket prices, bankruptcies and consolidation happening in the airline industry, it’s even more important that the airlines provide quality services and increase airline passenger satisfaction for business travel. For event planners, it’s also important because the high cost of airline travel accounts for a significant line item for incentive and other destination events.
So how did the airlines perform in 2007 vs. 2006? Unfortunately, the overall industry airline quality rating continued to decline. This, according to the 18th annual national Airline Quality Rating, released April 2008, a report that ranks the largest U.S. airlines conducted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wichita State University.
This represents a continued decline in U.S. passenger satisfaction since 2003 when the airline industry showed a slight improvement vs. 2002. when the overall on-time arrivals rates was 82.1%.
The report measures satisfaction based on four indicators, and key 2007 highlights include the following:
- On-time arrivals: 73%
(3% decrease vs. 2006)
- Mishandled baggage: 7.01 per 1,000 passengers
(6% increase vs. 2006)
- Involuntary denied boardings: 1.14 per 10,000 passengers
(13% increase vs. 2006)
- Consumer complaints: 1.42 per 100,000 passengers
(61% increase vs. 2006)
If event planners organize conferences and programs that require airline transportation, they don’t want their guests experiencing flight delays, lost luggage or boarding denials. After all, the primary objective of such trips is to result in great experiences that build relationships -- not angry phone calls from attendees and hosting executives.
That said, the 2008 Airline Quality Rating details the performance of each airline in 2007. Based on the measuring criteria, the study ranks airlines as follows:
- Air Tran
- Jet Blue
- U.S. Airways
- American Eagle
- Atlantic Southeast
The rating is conducted annually by the UNO Aviation Institute and W. Frank Barton School of Business at WSU. The AQR, as an industry standard, provides consumers and industry watchers a means to compare quality among airlines using objective performance-based data. It is a joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities at UNO and WSU.