Steve Jones’ Say – June

Steve Jones suggests how much stock airlines should put on the results of customer satisfaction surveys, following Jetstar's appalling performance.

Jetstar is the worst airline in the world. Well, so says research conducted by consumer advocacy groups in eight countries around the globe, including Australia’s own Choice.

Ok, not every single airline was included in the survey of 11,000 passengers. Only 73. Sample sizes for other carriers were either too small, Tiger Airways included, or the airlines did not feature at all. Hardly surprising when passengers from the UK, Germany, US or Asia weren’t anywhere to be seen in the survey. So there are probably worse airlines out there.

Still, last out of 73 in a survey that examined, among other things, punctuality, service, cleanliness and meals isn’t great.

Virgin Australia won’t be too chuffed either. It was considered better than only 22 airlines, finishing 51st.. Qantas, too, will hardly be taking out ads spruiking its popularity after finishing mid table. Thirty five airlines are, apparently, superior to Australia’s flag carrier.

Jetstar felt so aggrieved it felt it necessary to issue a statement rejecting the survey findings. I don’t know why it bothered. All it did was add fuel to a fire that was barely flickering and would have died out naturally within 24 hours.

Jetstar should have taken it all with a pinch of salt. As a reporter, I used to regard these stories as space fillers on a slow news day. A low cost carrier gets another kicking in a less-than-robust survey. So what’s new?

That’s not to say Jetstar, and others, don’t have work to do to improve the quality of their product and service. Of course they do. The experience can be painful at times.

But people have short and selective memories, often limited to the last flight they took or the worst experience they can remember, whether it was one they endured personally or simple read about. It makes the survey somewhat less than scientific.

I’ve flown Jetstar many times, as I have the punching bag that is Tiger Airways, and experienced a few late departures and a cancellation or two. But the unremarkable flights — incident-free, on-time, perfectly reasonable service — far exceed the number of grim experiences. We remember and focus on the negatives, conveniently dismissing or forgetting that most of the time the flights been perfectly adequate.

Furthermore, I don’t buy a low cost fare for comfort, fine wines, a gastronomic food experience or to receive a “welcome back Mr Jones” greeting. You get what you pay for. So comparing Jetstar with a Qantas or Emirates or any other full service carrier in a survey like this is nonsense and worthless.

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