Is scoring flights helpful to passengers?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

airplaneWe are used to TripAdvisor presenting us with hotel reviews. It has also given us airline reviews although it doesn’t have as many as it does with hotels despite the facility going back almost a decade.

In its home country it also has a feature called Flyscore which is a grading out of ten based on a range of subjects such as aircraft quality, in-flight amenities and the length of the flight.

But they aren’t alone. Other companies have similar products such as RouteHappy which has scores but not reviews. Many large airlines such as United, Delta, Lufthansa, Swiss and Qantas, have adopted that system but TripAdvisor is hot on their heels by upgrading their Flyscore to include a range of other things including coverage across a greater number of countries as well as developments from their subsidiary SeatGuru.

But what use is this to the traveller? It might make commercial sense as TripAdvisor becomes a retailer rather than just as source of reviews. It might help if you really care about the window size, the strength of the wi-fi signal or the measurement of cabin air pressure but most of us don’t. We want to know if the airline is comfortable, has a good safety record and that the service is polite, courteous and delivers. But does a score help us travellers?

The answer is an emphatic no.

Why? Because the score doesn’t take into account the human element, the differences between the same flight today as tomorrow, the cabin crew make-up, the change of  aircraft at a late stage and all those serendipitous things that can alter from one day to another.

Take a flight on American Airlines from London to New York on a Monday. The passenger make-up will be different to a mid-week flight. You will get better service from a half-full flight than on a full flight because the cabin crew is not spread so thinly. An evening flight will have a different routine to that of a midday flight. Can the scoring algorithm take all this into account? It seems unlikely since you aren’t asked to include specific factual elements into your flight reviews.

As I mentioned earlier, a scoring system might be great for commercial opportunities in persuading enterprises that it is the biggest breakthrough since sliced bread but for the humble passenger it is more likely to mis-guide

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