Our sentiment technology monitors millions of online conversations from social media sites like Twitter, review sites, online news media, and message boards. We capture the conversations that matter to an airline brand and sort them through our unique taxonomy engine. The result is a “Passenger Sentiment Score” that offers unparalleled insight into how passengers perceive not just an airline brand, but deeper into specific passenger touchpoints, such as customer support and what interactions frustrate passengers.
We used this technology to understand how the Apex World Class airlines in Asia-Pacific region differ from the average score for all Full-Service Carriers for onboard Food & Beverage services. These airlines were:
We also analysed passenger reviews to understand the voice of the customer and what they feel these airlines are doing better than anyone else when it comes to the Food & Beverage service onboard.
Using our methodology to uncover the deeper influence of the Food & Beverage service onboard, we found that Apex World Class airlines outperform the Full Service Carrier average by 56% to 49%, with the very best performer boasting a 66% positive passenger sentiment score.
The struggles the airline industry has had dealing with a surge in pent-up travel demand whilst emerging from the global pandemic have been well-documented. This analysis of how Apex world-class airlines have performed assists their suppliers in bringing high-quality service back into the onboard passenger experience. We found that though all airlines were struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels of customer satisfaction, our data clearly showed that the Apex World-Class airlines were rebounding at a rate much faster than their competitors.
The Voice of the Passenger
Passenger comments about an airline’s food and beverage service fell into four groups:
Food & Beverage quality
Food & Beverage quantity
Choice of menu
Of these, it is crew service that seems to have been the most resilient amongst the best airlines in the world. Many airlines have struggled with staffing since the relaxation of rules around the global pandemic, but the voice of the passenger shows that service levels have not dropped onboard the Apex world-class airlines.
Food Quality is harder to quantify, particularly when the menu tries to be more adventurous than simply chicken or beef. It is easy for one passenger’s “delicious”, to be another passenger’s “slop”. Fortunately, the predominant voice of the passenger is quite forgiving when it comes to quality, there is generally a low expectation for the quality of food onboard and what these world-class airlines do well, is to surprise and delight passengers by exceeding their expectations.
The biggest issue that the voice of the passenger is highlighting even among the best airlines in the world is the reduction in the quantity of food, that inevitable rounds of cost-cutting have brought about. Across all airlines, there are comments about two meal services becoming just one and a snack, or a reduction in the amount of food on the tray.
Choice of food is also a key gripe with passengers. The availability of Gluten-free, Ovo-Lacto or Vegan meals is always going to be tricky for airlines, where passengers do not pre-order their menus. The biggest issues for passengers arise when one of the options runs out before the end of service.
The Importance of Snacks
“My kids were over the moon because they gave us ice cream...” – Japan Airlines economy passenger
Cutting costs by removing the quantity of food served on board or the number of meal services puts much more emphasis on the snacks available as passengers, particularly on long-haul flights get hungry. A great snack service that offers something unique to an airline whilst also catering to dietary requirements, can create a massive leap in passenger sentiment. When an airline gets snacks right on a flight passenger sentiment jumps by 10%.
A basket of crisps and chocolate in the galley is not going to cut it with passengers. Examples of snacks that strike a chord with passengers are the noodles on Singapore Airlines, the Dorayaki on Japanese Airlines, and Ice Cream.
What are passengers hungry for?
The food and beverage service is a key offering that sets the world-class airlines apart from other full-service carriers. Coming out of pandemic restrictions there were two major impacts on food and beverage services:
Staff shortages – impacting the quality of the food and service.
Need to cut costs – impacting the quantity and quality of the food.
The best airlines in the world have been able to quickly bring their food and beverage services back to near pre-pandemic levels regardless of these impacts, ensuring their passengers remain well-fed with meals and snacks that go beyond the expectations of their passengers. To emulate these airlines, the voice of the passenger would recommend:
The quality of the food only needs to be better than the passengers’ expectations for airline food, it does not have to compete with Michelin-starred restaurants.
Never leave passengers hungry, if it is a super-long-haul flight ensure there are interesting snacks readily available between meals and always make sure there is another option like Noodles or Sandwiches.
Empower crew to be brilliant, the reviews analysed for this study are filled with anecdotes of the crew who have gone above and beyond to ensure their passengers have a great flight experience.