Lonely Planet Writer

Major airline survey reveals what makes passengers happiest

A major survey of airline passengers has revealed the thing that makes people happiest on their journey … and it’s one of the most old-fashioned traditions of the aviation industry.

Attentive cabin crew high on the priority list for air passengers.
Attentive cabin crew high on the priority list for air passengers. Image by Getty

Despite a recent drift towards no-frills airlines, the single biggest thing that made passengers enjoy their journey remains “attentive cabin crew” who provided good service. The survey of 7000 passengers presented travellers with options of what most improved their flying experience with the largest number – or 23% – saying it was the excellence of cabin crew. Next most important was something altogether more modern, getting timely e-notifications from airlines, which was selected by 21% of passengers.

In-flight Wi-Fi high on passengers' wishlists.
In-flight Wi-Fi high on passengers’ wishlists. Image by Getty

In-flight Wi-Fi access is also proving important for frequent flyers with 16% saying it was one of the things most likely to improve their journey. The research also looked at the parts of every air trip, which people tended to most enjoy. Satisfaction ratings were highest when people were booking their flights but keep dropping at every step afterwards reaching a low point as passengers go through security.The survey found two other areas that were most likely to leave people dissatisfied – bag collection and in-flight entertainment.

Airport security checks are passengers' biggest bugbear.
Airport security checks are passengers’ biggest bugbear.

Security at airports is the biggest bugbear however, for most travellers with passengers finding some of the checks and screening particularly irritating. Almost 60% of people felt that changes are needed on having to remove shoes, belts, and jackets, while 51% find it a nuisance to unpack laptops and other electrical devices. Once on board, it was time for passengers to relax and old habits die hard no matter the length of the flight.

23% of passengers said attentive cabin crew helped make a flight enjoyable.
23% of passengers said attentive cabin crew helped make a flight enjoyable. Image by Getty Images

On long haul journeys, watching movies was the top activity chosen by 77% of those surveyed, with 69% also saying they liked to grab a snooze in-flight.For short hops, reading was most popular (chosen by 53%), although nearly two in every five people still tried to catch up on sleep in the air. You can see the full set of findings via the International Air Transport Association, who carried out the survey.