Regional airlines (regionals) act as feeder airlines to major airlines connecting regional centres to main hubs (airports). Regionals also link smaller centres to each other. These airlines typically operate turbo-prop or single aisle regional jets on short routes (typically less than three hours).
Due to the short flight times passengers on regionals are generally not served a meal or alcoholic beverages or given a blanket and pillow. In fight entertainment is also rare. Whilst similar to low cost airlines, regional airlines differ in that fares generally include baggage that can be transferred between flights. Many regional airlines are a subsidiary of a full service airline and allow premium passengers access to the full service carrier lounges.
Low cost and regional airlines cannot be compared with full service airlines as they offer an entirely different product on typically far shorter routes where the frills do not matter as much. Whilst the full service airlines are graded using a 7 star rating system, regional and low cost airlines cannot have a seven-star budget product because seven stars denotes excellence. Therefore we have adopted separate easy to follow five-star rating systems for regional and low cost carriers.
- All regional carriers were given a 4 out of 5 star rating to start with. This was based on the fact that most regionals provide snacks and/or non alcoholic beverages, the seats often don’t recline, blankets and pillows aren’t available and there is no in flight entertainment.
- If a regional provides more than this (i.e a full meal, entertainment or blankets for example) they received an extra star to a maximum of 5 stars.
- Regionals lose a star from the base 4 star rating if passengers pay for snacks or drinks or if no snacks or drinks were available despite a significant flight time.
- A star is also taken off airlines that operate short flight times such as island hopper services but didn’t provide a basic snack or drink service in a departure lounge.
- Airlines can also lose a star if the website was lacking passenger information or was of a poor standard.