Smiles And Technology Make For Happy Fliers

Joe Kunzler, Flickr

I’ve always found it a little odd that flight attendants still greet passengers, check their boarding pass and direct them to their seats (as though they might get lost between the galley and row 15) – but apparently we rather like that. According to the 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Survey, passengers who are greeted by smiley airline staff register 211 points higher levels of happiness than those who aren’t.

The study, which polled 11,800 passengers, rated flier satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale. It looked at everything from baggage fees to check-in to boarding processes and in-flight services to figure out just what makes air passengers tick.Overall, budget airlines rated better than traditional carriers when it came to passenger satisfaction.

The things we love the most? Being able to check-in to our flights online. According to the survey, 36 percent of passengers used online check-in and experienced much higher levels of happiness than those who used the main ticket counter at the airport. Travelers using a mobile device to check-in scored even higher. In general, technology seems to be a big winner among air passengers, and using Wi-Fi on flights also gave fliers a dose of good feelings.

Among the factors dragging down passenger happiness were baggage fees, although the survey showed that travelers are slowly becoming accustomed to the extra charges and were less irked by fees than in prior years.