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The research was conducted in Saudi Arabia: Jeddah. Following is a snap shot of the people we hung out with.
Farhan K. | Frequent business traveler. “ Misses his kids when he is away”
Fadi F. | Frequent business traveler. “ I hate to miss the soccer matches on Tuesdays ”
Thamer F. | Occasional business & leisure traveler. “ I have my Blackberry, I’m connected”
Naseem K.| Leisure traveler. “Cant wait to meet the hostesses”
Ahmed G. | Business traveler. “Its not about the ride; its about the destination”
Kaleem U.Z | Frequent business traveler. “4 flights in 2 days, it’s a slow week”
Mazen B. | Business traveler. “We need to have better meals on longer flights”
Salwa A.R | Occasional business traveler. Frequent Leisure travel. “ So much to see, so little time”
Zeina S. | Frequent business traveler. “I just don’t want to encounter any delays, I want to reach my destination on time”
The research was conducted through a series of questions aimed at gathering insights into the Aviation industry in general; and specifically on the fears, thoughts and feelings towards the present and future of air travel amongst Business & Leisure travelers.
The objective of this research is to understand (a) thoughts and feelings of target consumers on the airline industry in general (b) characteristics and perceptions on leisure and business trips as well as (c) their fears and hopes for the future of the airline industry.
Advances in technology are perceived to be the major contributing factor to the future safety of air travel
People in general feel that the aviation industry today has made drastic advances in the implementation of safety measures
People believe that on a yearly basis new advances in technology are making it easier to detect technical malfunctions early on; thus decreasing the chances of a mechanical failure during flight.
Despite the technical reassurance; almost all respondents still have an inherent fear of air travel. Reason being the lack of control over external factors.
“ I know that statistically driving my car is more dangerous than air travel, but at least I have the chance of survival in an accident. On a plane I have no control on what happens and that scares me”
“ I have been flying for the majority of my life. I still get butterflies in my stomach during take-off”
“ I feel at ease on Saudi Airlines because prior to every flight, verses from the Quran are recited. It makes me feel like I am in God’s hands. Also, the fact that there is no alcohol on the flight makes me feel that I am in an environment that is not ‘haram’ in the event that something is to happen.”
Practicality and Convenience are main drivers for Business Travelers
Time is a luxury they don’t have. They live fast paced hectic lifestyles. They have to travel, and travel frequently so comfort and convenience become decisive factors when planning business trips.
They rely heavily on administrative staff to make their bookings and plan their travel itineraries
“ I have a hundred things running through my mind during the day and don’t want to go through the additional hassle of dealing with agents and making bookings. Anyways, they know more about the procedures than I do”
“ Delays and last minute changes drive me crazy. It effects my entire schedule. Why cant they SMS passengers in advance if there is going to be a delay instead of making us wait around lounges unnecessarily?”
“ I feel like I spend so much precious time on planes and I seek that extra comfort to compensate for it”
“ I look forward to my flight; it gives me the chance for some one on one time with myself. I get to disconnect and dwell on my thoughts.”
Leisure travelers perceive cost & comfort as the most decisive factors
Especially when travelling with family, cost cutting measures are used extensively with leisure travelers.
They spend a considerable amount of time seeking the best deals, good offers, shortest routes, whenever they are paying for the ticket out of their own pocket.
“ Booking online is easy and convenient, it really makes a difference to my life”
“ Planning your trip before hand is sometimes more exciting than the trip itself. I’m on vacation before I even leave”
“ The future of online is big and bright”
“ Children are an important consideration when selecting my flight routes, I don’t want to deal with tired kids on a 3-4 hour stop over”
“ Kuwait Airways looks after its passengers, returning from a school trip we faced a 9 hour lay over at the airport with no visa to exit. Kuwait Airways organized lunch and dinner for us and sent magazines and puzzles. Will be forever thankful.”
“ The internet gives me as much updated information as any agent ever”
Environmental concerns do not affect the travelers decision making process
People are aware of the necessity for airlines to adopt a more ‘green approach’ for the benefit of our environment. The importance of the environment however; takes a back seat for them when it comes to their personal convenience.
Is it possible for airlines to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach in the near future?
“ Yes, if not for the change in fuel type, then at least in small things. Maybe stop serving meat on flights. I read somewhere that cows contribute more to the green house gases than the airline industry.”
“ Only if they use a more environmentally friendly fuel, and I do not think this is doable in the near future”
“ Yes, and they should. They cannot keep acting irresponsibly”
“ Given ALL things are equal I will choose a green carrier, but if there’s a difference in price or the timings are not favorable, then I have no incentive to change”
How can Airlines improve the air travel experience?
“ Bring back the human touch to air travel. It feels so impersonal when I fly these days. I don’t feel that they genuinely care beyond what I pay for my ticket.”
“ I fly business class frequently when traveling for work; however when I travel with my family, we fly economy because I cant afford to pay business class tickets for 5 people. It really bothers me to experience such a different level of ‘human’ service.”
“ Easy access to the internet and connectivity is a service I would love to see on board. It will help time pass by and I can also get a lot of work and emails done.”
“ Treat passengers like friends; it’s hard I know but it makes the overall experience so much more pleasant. Cabin crew today are so impersonal like zombies.”
“ I don’t want to feel guilty when I ask for a soft drink after the meals are collected. I pay a lot of money for my ticket and sometimes they look at you like you just asked for a pot of gold.”
“ I am easily nauseated from the strange smells and odors that fill the cabin.”
“ I don’t fly Emirates from Saudi because they connect flights, which means that the flight is full of labor workers. I prefer Saudi Airlines because they operate direct flights to destinations and as such don’t usually have expat laborers on such flights”
“ I fly Emirates when travelling to the UAE because on Saudi Airlines they don’t let me travel without my husband’s approval. Sometimes this rule is enforced, while other times it’s not. Very confusing so why go through the hassle?”
“ Very respectable company and image with a well maintained flight and crew”
“ I like this airlines because of their worldwide routes, which helps me to benefit from earning miles”
“ The service has gone down significantly compared to earlier years”