APEX Survey Insights:
Passenger Satisfaction In-flight

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In this edition of APEX Survey Insights we take a closer look at overall passenger satisfaction, some of its contributing factors, and what areas of the passenger experience respondents would like to see improved.

Money Can Buy Happiness, In-flight

Given the choice between a free meal or a paid meal on-board your next flight, which option would you choose? The answer (free of course!) seems obvious however, insights from our Passenger Survey uncover an interesting trend:  In-flight purchases, such as snacks, meals and alcoholic beverages appear to be driving higher customer satisfaction.  Likewise, passengers who engaged in in-flight shopping or purchased in-flight entertainment or Wi-Fi access had passenger experience scores that were 3 to 5 percent higher than the overall average of 73 percent. 

in-flight purchase and satisfaction

The results seem counter-intuitive given the dissatisfaction passengers have expressed with airlines moving away from all-inclusive fares, however findings from the J.D. Power & Associates 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study may explain the results. The study found that improved in-flight services over the past few years, such access to Wi-Fi, have contributed to higher customer satisfaction rates.

Airline Food Improving According to Passengers

Airline food, although not always positively reviewed by passengers and critics, can be included in the “improved in-flight services” category. When asked, 7 out of 10 passengers surveyed said they are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality and selection in-flight snack or meals. 

food satisfaction

But it does appear that age can affect your satisfaction levels with in-flight food. The survey found that passengers aged 55 and older were the least satisfied with in-flight food quality and selection. Moreover, the results differed by gender, with women showing more dissatisfaction with in-flight food compared to men.

Room for Improvement

So what do passengers want to see improved in-flight? The number one selection, “Upgrades in Passenger Seating and Fabric,” scored the highest at 38 percent followed by  “Improved Passenger Connectivity.”

most desired improvement

With the innovations we’ve seen in seating so far in 2014 and the increasing availability of Wi-Fi in-flight, it would appear that airlines and vendors are already on the right track to increasing passenger satisfaction!

For more information on the Passenger Survey, click here for member access to the resultsFor media inquiries, please contact Chris Peterson, APEX Communications Specialist.

APEX Exclusive:
Q&A With BAE Systems’ Starwind Airlines

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Inspired by the fake airline trend, we reached out to APEX member BAE Systems to learn more about IntelliCabin’s fictitious airline, Starwind. Find out what inspired the airline and how Starwind defines the passenger experience.

Q: What inspiration was behind Starwind?

A: In the process of developing the user experience for IntelliCabin’s wireless, tablet-based in-flight entertainment system, we created “journeys” for passengers, cabin crew, and our potential airline customers. We gave names to our passengers, Alim and Betty, an attendant (Jenny), and the airline, of course.

We wanted something exotic and not related to a particular region or country. The team came up with Starwind and the rest is history.

Q: If Starwind had a slogan, what would it be?

A: Things are looking up

Q: Who would be your celebrity of choice to endorse Starwind?

A: Archie Panjabi

Q: Tell us about the menu offerings on-board Starwind flights.

A: We would serve dishes created by celebrity chefs, like Kevin Gillespie’s collard-stuffed chicken with bacon jam, April Bloomfield’s lamb burger, and Mike Solomonov’s double roasted eggplant with middle eastern spices and halloumi cheese.

Q: What is BAE Systems’ favorite item from the amenity kit?

A: A really rich lemongrass lip balm and sandalwood hand lotion set

APEX Survey Insights:
What Passengers Get Up to at 35,000 Feet

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2014 marked the launch of the APEX State of the Air Passenger Experience Program, an initiative which periodically surveys flyers to gain valuable insights into passenger wants, preferences and behaviors. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reporting on the survey’s key findings. In this edition of APEX Survey Insights we take a closer look at how passengers are spending their time in-flight.

APEX Asks: Whatcha doin (in-flight)?

When passengers board their flight, whether it be short-haul or long-haul, they often have an idea of how they plan to spend their time on-board. Airlines offer several options to keep passengers entertained including movies, music, in-flight magazines, games and now, with the increasing availability of in-flight Wi-Fi, passengers have the option to do even more with their personal electronic devices.

But just how much time do passengers dedicate to the specific in-flight activities that airlines are heavily investing in? These types of questions are important to monitor so that the money invested in costly IFE initiatives measures up to passengers’ expectations. In our Passenger Survey, APEX asked “How do airline passengers spend their time?” and the results (outlined in the infographic below) are both promising for IFE initiatives and informative.

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Although “Sleeping” was the activity surveyed passengers spent the majority of their time doing (16 percent), “Watching In-flight Provided Movies or Television” came in at a close second, with passengers spending 15 percent of their time with the airline embedded IFE system and 7 percent with the in-flight magazine. Even newer IFE options such as airline-provided gaming options scored a surprising 4 percent.  “Despite the distractions found in the cabin, a huge element of the in-flight experience is that of waiting, so there’s plenty of room for interactive games at cruising altitude,” said Jordan Yerman in his article “Time to Play” in October’s Journey issue. In fact, 57% of all airline passengers said they engaged in in-flight gaming in the last three months.

These metrics did vary according to passenger age however, with older passengers spending more time reading, conversing with other passengers, and reading the in-flight magazine compared to younger passengers.

inflight activities_by age

The Power of the In-flight Magazine

When we think of IFE options in-flight, movies, music, and games often come to mind but the APEX Passenger Survey reveals that the in-flight magazine is an IFE platform that should not be overlooked!

In fact, four out of five respondents said that they not only read the in-flight magazine on flights in the last three months, but when they did they spent an average of 13.7 minutes doing so, making it one of the most effective ways to reach airline passengers.

inflight mag

Lessons Learned

There is no question that the future of IFE is changing with the increasing availability of in-flight Wi-Fi. Many predict that most IFE platforms won’t stand the test of time, but as long as we’re asking the right questions, airlines and service providers will have the opportunity to adapt to customer expectations and provide passengers with the IFE options they want and are using most.

For more information on the Passenger Survey, click here for member access to the results. For media inquiries, please contact Chris Peterson, APEX Communications Specialist.

Spotlight on India:
Growth in an Emerging Market

Photo: Airbus
Photo: Airbus

IndiGo announced last Wednesday their plans to buy 250 Airbus A320neo aircraft. The deal with IndiGo is a huge boost for Airbus, given that just last month, they were lagging behind Boeing in sales with 791 net orders versus Boeing’s 1,000 heading into Q4. The deal will go down in history as the largest-ever single order for narrow-body aircraft and the low-cost airline has just secured rights to purchase an additional 100 of the single-aisle jets.

Growth on the Horizon

But the large aircraft order by the country’s biggest airline  is not surprising if we take a closer look at the country’s plan for air travel expansion.  Earlier this year, the Indian government revealed their plans to develop 200 airports in targeted areas across the country where the population can afford to fly. The development project is supported by data from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) which predicts India will experience one of the highest growth rates across the aviation industry within the next 20 years. Similarly, Airbus forecasts India’s Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) at 9.9 percent between now and 2031, surpassing Domestic China, Europe and the US.

Chart source: Quartz

Increasing Competition

No one doubts India’s air market expansion prospects. With the recent investment by Etihad in Jet Airways, the expansion to new routes by Air Asia India, and ‘new kid on the air market block’ Vistara (partly owned by Singapore Airlines), it’s clear that the growth in India’s air travel sector is bullish despite the challenge the market has posed for many domestic airlines (including the once profitable but now defunct Kingfisher Airlines).

“IndiGo is the only airline in India which has been consistently profitable for each of the last four consecutive years,”

CAPA said in its latest India Aviation Outlook

But although IndiGo currently owns more than 32 percent of domestic marketshare, it’s recent investment with Airbus only serves to underline that much of the India market remains untapped, and it won’t be long before external competition closes in.