Which? and the airport survey

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

On Monday morning, the magazine Which? garnered headlines in the media by announcing that Belfast International airport was the worst airport in the UK.

A bird’s eye view of Belfast International airport. Image © Vinci Airports

It has surveyed 6,237, a sample size that is large enough to provide meaningful results.

Except in this case.

If you read about any surveys published by Which (or the Consumers’ Association as the owners of Which?) then pay particular attention to how the survey was undertaken. Why? Because it may not to be a accurate reflection of people’s thinking.

In the case of the worst airport, Which? only polled its own members. That would be fine if the members of the Consumers’ Association were a representative sample of the UK as a whole but they patently aren’t. For a start, to join the association you need to pay which rules out all those people who have no wish to join. If you want to join the online panel you can only be a member.

Having to pay also rules out those people who cannot afford the membership which might conceivable be a significant number of people. But 683,000 people are members according to their last published annual report, a not inconsiderable number and percentage of the population. It is just that they probably represent a more up-market strata of the country rather than an average one. Having more wealth they may fly more often than the average person. Regular uses usually notice more than those that just do something once

Which? tells you the methodology they employed so you can see at a glance whether the survey was conducted via its members or whether – and much more unusually – it was conducted via a representative sample reflecting the population as a whole. What may not happen is that the media publicising the story may not say how the survey was conducted leaving the reader to think that the survey is really the views of the population as a whole.

Reader then beware! As those financial ads say – look at the small print – or, in this case, look to see if the methodology is explained.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: ,