Air travel intelligence company OAG recently surveyed 2,000 North American travelers to determine which factors affect airline customers’ loyalty and booking choices. The results, outlined in its report ‘Loyalty and Disruption: the New Age of Travel’ revealed some interesting generational habits and decision trends.
The firm’s findings led OAG to conclude that, when it comes to which factors most influence consumers’ airline-related sentiments and booking behaviors, its depends upon which age group you’re looking at. Some of the research’s key insights are outlined below.
Airline preferences expressed by the combination of all survey participants were discovered to be: American Airlines (28 percent), Delta Air Lines (24 percent) and United Airlines (17 percent), followed by Southwest Airlines (13 percent), which corresponds closely to their combined share of the U.S. market.
Loyalty According To Generation
The industry’s second-youngest set of consumers, Millennials turn out to be the most likely generation to change their airline loyalty. In the past year, 47 percent have done just that, as compared to percent 37 of Gen Z consumers, 23 percent of Gen X and 15 percent of Baby Boomers, who are evidently the most brand-loyal travelers.
To no one’s great surprise, especially amid the current economic conditions, cost emerged as the primary driver of all travelers’ airline choices. The study found the youngest consumer group, Gen Z, to be the most likely to alter their airline preference in favor of flights that fit their budgets (77 percent), followed by Gen X (69 percent) and Millennials (59 percent), with Baby Boomers (47 percent) proving the least likely to deviate from their loyalty to an airline due to pricing.
On-Time Performance (OTP) is the foremost reason that 36 percent of all travelers surveyed cited for their continued loyalty to any given airline. Baby Boomers (25 percent) cite OTP as their primary motive for remaining loyal to a brand, on par with the value they place upon frequent-flyer program status and rewards.
Gen Z’s loyalty is the most influenced by OTP, and the reason that 63 percent of them reported remaining loyal to their preferred airline. Compare that to 52 percent of Millennials, 35 percent of Gen X and 25 percent of Baby Boomers who said the same.
Delays and Cancellations
But, when it comes to booking behavior, the past year or so of continuous, widespread flight disruptions and their effect on OTP plays the most prominent part in flyers’ decisions. In fact, 37 percent of all respondents reported having switched their airline loyalty due to their own experience of significant delays or cancellations during the past year. Millennials (42 percent) emerged as the most likely group to view this as a deal-breaker, followed by38 percent of Gen Z, 32 percent of Baby Boomers and 31 percent of Gen X.
When It Comes To Booking Habits...
OTP also plays a major role in shaping consumers’ air travel booking habits, with 82 percent of total travelers saying that on-time performance affects which flight and/or airline they go with (provided that pricing and schedules are all relatively equal). 91 percent of Gen Z respondents reported being more likely to choose and airline based upon OTP, compared to 87 percent of Millennials, 81 percent of Gen X and 77 percent of Baby Boomers.
Pricing is also a significant driver of booking habits, especially among younger age who are more readily influenced by available deals on flights. Among Gen Z survey participants, 41 percent said they would change the way they book in order to access non-traditional flight options at a more attractive price. Likewise, 40 percent of Gen Z and 39 percent of Millennials will change reported they wouldn’t hesitate to change how they booked if it meant gaining access to better hotel and experience packages.
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