North American travelers reveal top ways to fly to Europe, Asia

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December 31, 2019
Europe Asia satisfaction Power
Turkish Airlines premium economy. Photo: Turkish Airlines.

Travelers from North America rank Turkish Airways as the most satisfying way of flying to Europe and see Japan Airlines as number one on routes to Asia, according to a new study by J.D. Power.

The company’s 2019 International Destination Satisfaction Study was based on responses from 6287 passengers and measured passenger satisfaction with airlines flying from North America to Europe and Asia in September and October.

It looked at nine areas: in-flight services; cost and fees; aircraft; flight crew; check-in; boarding; immigration; baggage; and reservation.

READ: A decade of aviation brings some surprising changes.

Contrary to the price-driven domestic airline culture in North America,  the study found that great food, good customer service and a positive track record were primary drivers of passenger satisfaction.

“A low fare may be the best way to attract a first-time international passenger,” said J.D. Power travel intelligence lead Michael Taylor.

“But retaining passengers on routes to Europe and Asia is all about delighting customers with great in-flight experiences.

“One of the most powerful ways to do that is with food and beverage offerings that are unique to the airline’s culture and that manage to deliver flavor at altitude, where it has been proven that taste buds grow less sensitive.”

Turkish Airlines topped the list of carriers flying to Europe with a score of 833 points out of a possible 1000.

Coming second was Virgin Atlantic (829) with British Airways (815) and Delta Air Lines (815) in joint third position.

They were followed by Air France (814) and American Airlines (812), which both scored above the Europe average of 809 while United equaled it.

Airlines to score below average were Lufthansa (808), KLM (803), Air Canada (787) and Norwegian (767).

Services on routes to Asia tended to score higher than those heading to Europe, with the overall average of 830 points sitting 21 points ahead of its European counterpart.

Following top-scoring Japan Airlines (869 points) was Delta (861), Korean Air (854), All Nippon Airways (849) and Cathay Pacific (830).

Airlines falling below the average included Air China (822), Eva Air (822), American Airlines (816), Air Canada (811), China Eastern (810) and United (808).

One of the study’s interesting findings was that on flights to Asia, more than half of the overall in-flight passenger experience was dictated by food and beverage.

But it found there was room for improvement in this area and overall satisfaction with food and beverage offerings was still lower than satisfaction with in-flight entertainment.

“On flights to Europe, overall satisfaction with in-flight entertainment is 53 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) than for food and beverage,’’ the company said.

“On flights to Asia, that gap is 22 points.”

Past experience was a primary driver when it came to selecting an airline for travel to the two markets followed by good customer service, convenient scheduling, reputation and ticket price.

“Other variables, which weigh heavily on airline selection among domestic travelers—such as availability of a direct flight, no luggage fees and Wi-Fi access—play a much less significant role in airline selection among international travelers,’’ the company said.