Flying – What Do Frequent Fliers Really Care About?

At its most black or white, airline passengers are either flying for business or pleasure. In reality, there are many shades of gray in between as most fly some combination of both.

Looking at only one of the extremes, Business Travel News recently asked business frequent fliers what was important to them. Not surprising, miles and points did not make the list at all. More surprising, complimentary upgrades and airline lounges also didn’t. Instead, this survey revealed what life up in the air is all about for those survey participants who spend a great deal of their working life up there.

United Airlines

At the top of the list was on time arrivals. While leisure travelers also appreciate this, they are not as time sensitive and also more likely to volunteer for a bump. Business travelers do not usually have that luxury, at least on their outbound flights.

Next in importance was on time delivery of baggage. Like most everyone, business travelers don’t want to check a bag unless they have to. Unfortunately, some are in sales which requires many samples or maybe they do demo or repair work and require a lot of equipment. Whatever the reason, not having the baggage there promptly upon arrival is aggravating to those on a tight schedule.

In third place was comfortable seats. Yes, this is important but I would have thought #5 (adequate leg room) would have been at #3. Between these two at #4 is a professional flight crew.

In the sixth slot was onboard power. Whether business or leisure flier, this is so important to most passengers. The seventh position also was a surprise. For a reason I don’t understand, these frequent fliers named having a modern fleet as important. Not sure how to explain this one. I don’t know, maybe some long for that new car smell in an airline seat.

Coming in at number 8 is having multiple frequent flier partners. I am sure here they mean a very good alliance network, not multiple FF partners in the biblical sense.

Next to last at number 9 was in-flight internet. I know many business travelers who fly certain airline carriers or routes because they feel they just have to be connected all the time. And I know others who say their time onboard is their personal time and prefer to use it to read, maybe listen to music, or just pass out. Besides, many companies don’t reimburse for onboard Wi-Fi so this probably also influences the low ranking.

Rounding out the Top 10 is premium class service. If they mean the first or business class cabin – and the survey respondents were allowed to book into this cabin – I don’t know why it would rank so low. On the other hand, if they can’t book into it and don’t seem to care about upgrades, then I have no idea why the better cabin and service would even matter to them.

So there you have it. This is what is important to today’s road warriors, at least those who responded to the BTN survey. I have no doubt your top 10 would be different and I know mine would be, but it is interesting to read their aggregate responses.

Complimentary upgrades would have been my choice for more important. Please share yours in the comments below.



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