We are confusing airlines

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

As readers might know, this week has seen five days of discussions at the World Aviation Festival.

Airlines are confused about when and where we will travel. Cartoon – Dan Sperrin

After listening to something like a dozen different conversations my conclusion is that airlines are tearing their hair out trying to understand how we – the airline flyers, travellers and holidaymakers – are reacting to the present problem.

They know that we cannot fly but they also know that there is a demand to fly. What they don’t know is when we will make a decision to fly.

They know that will be deterred by rules brought in by national governments but they don’t know when governments will allow people to fly.

They don’t know which of us will get on a plane first but think that those that will fly first will be those who want to visitor friends and relatives first. But how do they know who has friends and relatives abroad and also where do those overseas relations live? Do they have planes flying to those destinations? Can they respond quickly – the phrase of the week is “in an agile way” – to take advantage of this travel mode which had previously been thought of as just a small part of an airline’s business?

Ow do they know that the customers on their historic databases will be happy to fly again? How many and which ones will take a while to get comfortable with flying? Which out of their frequent flyer members will want to book first and how does an airline get to them?

Up until now business flyers have been the supporters of leisure flyers because they pay more. Most airlines have concentrated on business flyers so they are now altering their approach because business flyers might take longer to get on a plane.

Regular flyers were familiar with some of the electronic touchpoints (to use a horrible marketing word) like checking in online and using a QR code on the mobiles to deliver a host of time-cutting measures. Now airlines are altering and amend systems knowing that they will have to spend more time talking to customers who are not so tech savvy.

Above all, airlines are having to improve communications with passengers. If a country locks down giving just a few days’ notice how does an airline talk to all the people on affected flights, switch them to some other time or issue a refund. And how does it talk to us so that we stay loyal to the airline despite the inconvenience that we have had to endure.

Airlines are now finding they don’t know as much about us as they would like and that has made them confused.  

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