Fall in satisfaction with flying amid frustration over complaint handling – poll

Satisfaction with flying has fallen over the past two years amid frustration over how airlines handle complaints, new research suggests.

Some 82% of passengers are satisfied with the overall flying experience, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) poll.

This is down from 83% in April and 90% in 2016.

The poll indicates that Londoners are the least satisfied with flying (76%) while passengers from Northern Ireland are the most satisfied (87%).

The CAA commissioned the poll of 3,538 adults in autumn for its latest UK aviation consumer survey.

The findings highlight how important it is for airlines to improve their complaints-handling procedures.

Some 60% of people who were dissatisfied or neutral about how a complaint was dealt with said this would make them think twice about booking with that airline in the future.

The proportion of recent flyers satisfied with how a complaint was handled was 64% – the same score recorded in the spring survey. In October 2017 the figure was 53%.

CAA policy director Tim Johnson said: “While the numbers show a positive story overall, it is important for the industry to continue to improve in areas where consumers are less content, such as complaint handling.

“This is particularly important given new findings in this survey showing how poor complaint handling can make many consumers think twice about flying with an airline again.”

A spokesman for trade association Airlines UK, which represents UK carriers, said: “In the vast majority of cases passengers have an enjoyable travelling experience.

“More people are choosing to fly than ever before and airlines are committed to consistently improving their offering whilst delivering travel at lower cost.

“Sometimes things do go wrong and it is good to see that these results show further improvements in satisfaction around complaints handing, which compare favourably with other transport modes.”