I mentioned in my previous post the massive number of options popping up throughout the web of trip reports, covering in salivating detail every sequential step of the flying experience. It’s plane porn. It would be ludicrous of me to offer a replacement of these posts. They are an important part of the feedback loop, and do hold airlines to account through their coverage in social media. I can’t help notice, however, a screaming lack of airtime dedicated to those seats in economy – those of which over 80% of air travellers still ride in.

You can’t help notice a lack of airtime dedicated to those seats in economy – those of which over 80% of air travellers still ride in.

This is a gap and one I intend on filling, albeit via pretty alternate means to those of the trip blogger. Partly because the number of flights covered by extended trip reports are statistically insignificant, partly because my team and I are awful photographers.

We have a network of fliers providing constant feedback on their various escapades – you can do the same here (and we truly, seriously appreciate your comradeship in this community). This is based on a number of criteria I’ll detail soon. However, we start with the simplest attributes of the flight – characteristics that are easily verifiable, costly to change, and impossible to hide – the cabin. In particular, these include the seat, the legroom, the in flight entertainment hardware, the cabin density and layout, and the cabin amenities.

We measure seat width as the distance between the middle of each opposing armrest. Why? The newest trick in the trick-the-flier playbook, particularly apparent on the newest airframes, is the announcement of ever wider seat width, all the while adding greater seat density – mutually exclusive, contradictory occurrences. Measuring in such a way removes the effect of this cheeky white lie.

Pitch, or legroom more accurately, is somewhat less easily embellished. We take the distance between the back of the seat in front of you, and the backrest of your seat at knee-level. This gets complicated with the more obscure chairs found further forward in the premium cabins, which is why we include the bed length as part of our scoring for those.

The other factors making or breaking a good passenger experience on board are less easily quantifiable. Boiling it down, we use the following as the primary determinants of customer satisfaction and passenger experience (paxex):

  • Seat and Cabin: a self-explanatory measure, we use this to tweak our weightings for our seats measurements and seat width versus pitch;
  • Food: including, importantly, wine and beverages, this looks at both quality and quantity – the latter being quite the hot issue at the moment;
  • In Flight Entertainment: a combined measure of entertainment choice, WiFi and quality, which is again used to tweak our own measures of the entertainment systems;
  • Service: always a touchy issue, with as many opinions as there are passengers. Whatever your take on service, one thing is universal: it is clear to you when some service is better than others. This is what we ask here;
  • Value for Money: an absolute cracker of a question, and critical at this point in time. Whilst experiences and services on airlines are certainly doing anything but commoditising, prices most certainly are. Read another way, this question measures whether reality met with expectations before the flight.

Existing measures for this high volume customer feedback have either been infrequent or the results and methodology dubious and opaque. For us, the number crunching is simple: factors are weighted according to customer research on what is valued most throughout flights of different lengths, and this is applied to every review left on the site. This is how we arrive at an airline’s review figure.

Scores are updated instantly on www.flightmaestro.net – and you can see these through route-specific search or through the carrier scores link. Through this blog, we will bring you in depth updates, scores, rankings – anything we can pull from our data, your feedback and industry updates that will make you more informed in your flight choices.

Keep informed – these posts will be coming thick and fast.

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Posted by Tom

Tom is a consultant and founder of FlightMaestro.net, the online travel tool that rates, ranks and dissects every facet of in-flight passenger experience. All views expressed are his own.

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