Global Airline Industry Trends: Customer Review Analysis of Top 12 Airlines Worldwide

Category Analysis – Airlines
Period: January 2022 - January 2023
Region : Worldwide

The global air transport market grew from $714.49 billion in 2022 to $985.6 billion in 2023 at a CAGR of 37.9%.  The air transport market is projected to grow to $1250.41 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 6.1%.

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The analysis is based on customer reviews and conversations online in the segment. The analysis results presented are completely unbiased and not based on any subjective judgment. The source data used for the analysis are user conversations available publicly online like public forums and social media.


Total number of customer conversations analyzed

27, 495


Executive Summary - Customer Experience Insights From the Airline Industry

In the fast-paced and highly competitive airline industry, providing exceptional customer experiences is key to achieving success. This report comprehensively analyzes the latest CX trends and insights from the airline industry.


Through Clootrack's extensive analysis of over 27,000 customer reviews from 12 top airline brands worldwide, we have identified the most important factors that drive negative customer experience and strategies to turn this negative experience positive.


airline brands


Whether you're an airline professional looking to gain a competitive edge or a consultant advising airlines on customer experience strategies, this report is a must-read. With our actionable insights and real customer reviews, you'll better understand what drives customer satisfaction and loyalty in the airline industry and learn how to apply these insights to your organization.


Top 5 Customer Concerns of the Airline Industry

Based on Clootrack's customer feedback analysis, it has become clear that airline customers are most concerned about five key factors: Customer Service, Flight Delay, Flight Cancellation, Boarding, and Booking Experience.

Top 5 Customer Concerns of the Airlines Industry

(The above scores are driver popularity scores calculated by  Clootrack Tracker. The popularity score ranks the  customer priority for each category driver. The higher the  score, the higher the priority. The popularity score is a score  out of 1500. Popularity score = Net emotional intensity * % of customer  conversations. This calculation is based on the Kano  Model, which is used to measure customer satisfaction)


Among these factors, 'Customer Service' is the most critical driver of passenger experience, as it sets the tone for the entire customer journey. Customers value clear communication, responsiveness, and assistance from airline representatives.


'Flight Delays' and 'Flight Cancellations' are the following biggest pain points, as they can significantly disrupt travel plans and cause inconvenience. In addition to these factors, customers prioritize efficient and organized 'Boarding' processes and an easy and hassle-free 'Booking Experience.'


Dig Deep into Top Customer Concern - Customer Service

The analysis revealed that a staggering 67% of 14,000 passenger reviews had a negative experience with customer service. The complaints are centered around long wait times, unhelpful customer service chat lines, inability to answer questions, lack of escalation on calls, and rude staff behavior.


Dig Deep into Top Customer Concern - Customer Service


These findings indicate that airlines must prioritize improving their customer service experience to retain customers and improve their reputation.


Sub-themes of Customer Service that Contributes Higher Negative Experience

Check the subthemes, which are the frequently appeared terms in customer reviews about Customer Service.

Sub-themes of Customer Service

The top subtheme contributing to higher negative experiences in overall customer service is customer service supervisors, which includes dismissive and unprofessional behavior, no helpfulness or kindness, lack of compassion, little or no information provided, an attitude of impatience, and nastiness in their tone of voice.


Another subtheme is the negative experience around response time, which involves not receiving timely responses to inquiries, being unable to speak to a human being, not receiving timely compensation for claims, and missing important events such as funerals, weddings, and Christmas celebrations.


Furthermore, the negative experience around email updates includes difficulty updating contact details, unsatisfactory responses, being lied to in writing, and having flights canceled without notification.


Lastly, the negative experience around telephone calls involves poor communication, long wait times, calls being cut off, lack of staff to manage calls, and promised callbacks not coming within the specified time frame.


Sub-themes of ‘Flight Delay’ that Contributes Higher Negativity

Sub-themes of ‘Flight Delay’

Analyzing subthemes of poor customer experience around airline flight delays reveals a range of critical concerns that can significantly impact the travel experience. The disruption to people's plans is a significant factor, from delayed departures and missed connections to significantly delayed arrivals.


Additionally, customers often face a lack of customer service and support, which can compound the frustration of the delay. The lack of communication and refunds, food vouchers, and hotels for those affected can also create additional stress.


The cost of additional flights and hotels can be a significant burden, as well as the loss of time and events planned for the trip. Lack of staff to accommodate flights and chaos in luggage areas can further exacerbate the situation. Ultimately, the lack of alternative flight schedules only adds to the frustration of an already challenging experience.


Sub-themes of ‘Flight Cancellation’ that Contributes Higher Negativity

When it comes to airline flight cancellations, poor customer experiences can stem from a variety of subthemes. These subthemes include unexpected cancellations, repeated cancellations, issues with the cancellation window, and problems with the cancellation process.


Subthemes of ‘Flight Cancellation’


Unfortunately, the effects of canceled flights can be far-reaching and frustrating for passengers, leading to concerns such as arbitrary cancellations without explanation, long wait times to speak with customer service representatives, difficulty rescheduling, and being separated from loved ones during the rebooking process.


Other common issues that arise include unhelpful customer service agents, a lack of hotel accommodations, food credits, compensation, and free wifi. As airlines work to improve the customer experience, addressing these subthemes of poor customer experiences will be crucial in reducing frustration and improving overall customer satisfaction.


Turn Negative Experiences into Positive

Check 2 customers’ verbatim even after they had gone through flight cancellation/delay. 


“brilliant service from claire in ba customer relations, who sorted my delayed compensation for a flight which was cancelled at very short notice; despite the self-inflicted problem that i'd mis-keyed my bank account detail in my original online claim! and while the one-off cancellation was probably due to crew shortages, we generally enjoy great service from our friendly little local london city airport.”


“i was delayed for my connection flight to charlotte american airlines make sure that me and my 6-year-old kid had somewhere safe to sleep and food to eat thank you for a wonderful experience i truly appreciate it i don't know what i would have done probably sleep at the airport until my flight tomorrow i appreciate it”


This is proof that, with proper customer service and assistance, airlines can make frustrated customers more loyal and happy.

As per the analysis, the below services can help airlines make their customers happy when there is a flight delay/cancellation.

  • Compensation for delayed flight
  • Safe place to sleep
  • Food to eat
  • Arrange alternative flights

Business Class V/s Economy Class: The Patterns of CX

Comparing the experiences of both business class and economy passengers, business class customers seem happier and more satisfied across top drivers.

Business Class V/s Economy Class: The Patterns of CX

The in-flight experience was rated negatively by 84% of economy class passengers, compared to only 60% of business class passengers. The top concerns of economy class passengers were flight delays (rated negatively by 85% of them) and boarding (63% negativity). In contrast, these were not among the top five concerns of business class passengers.


Men V/s Women: The Patterns of CX

In the realm of airline travel, there appears to be a noticeable difference in the way men and women experience the customer experience provided. Women tend to express greater dissatisfaction with the quality of food and food options offered during flights. In contrast, men tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with the beverages and meal service provided.


Men V/s Women: The Patterns of CX



The Most Popular Passenger Profiles in the Airline Industry

According to customer reviews from the past 1 year, economy class passengers are the top popular customer profile.


The Most Popular Passenger Profiles in the Airlines Industry


Besides that, airline passengers' most popular customer profiles are solo leisure travelers, couples traveling for leisure, and families traveling for leisure. These profiles are more commonly seen after the economy and business class.


Air Routes that Witnessed Higher Negative Customer Experience

Overall, customers don’t feel much positive about the customer experience they get on all major air routes.


Air Routes that Witnessed Higher Negative Customer Experience


Flights originating from Miami and Manchester have the lowest customer service ratings. Regarding negative experiences, flights starting from Doha have higher instances of flight delays, while passengers on Dubai flights report the worst baggage handling experiences. Furthermore, passengers on New York routes have recorded higher negative experiences with boarding.


Detailed Report

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