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Published on Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Loyalty schemes lose appeal as crunch bites

Fares followed by convenient departure times and distance of airport from final destination are the three most important factors when choosing an airline, according to a new poll from Skyscanner.

The cheap flight site’s poll says customers were not swayed by customer loyalty programmes, brand building or improvements to the overall customer experience.

Some 37% chose price as crucial while 15% said the best departure times were the deciding factor and the same amount said proximity of the arrival airport to the final destination informed their airline choice.

Punctuality only scored 11% of the vote, sharing fourth place with safety record and age of fleet, implying that passengers either prioritise cost over getting there on time, or they don’t perceive any great difference between the punctuality of budget airlines over more expensive carriers.

Consumers showed little loyalty to brand with just 6% concerned about it, and are unswayed by added value initiatives such as airmile schemes, which received 3%, and luxuries such as customer lounges, which received just 1% of the vote.

Skyscanner co-founder and director Barry Smith said: “In these tough economic times, it’s little surprise that price is the number one most important factor when it comes to booking a flight. All things being equal, consumers may be influenced by airline brand or reward schemes like airmiles, but the first priority for passengers is the quality and value of the core product – a well-priced flight that gets you where you want to go when you want to get there.”
By Dinah Hatch


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