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Deep Mistrust in Airline Industry Following United Incident

It's going to take a while before United Airlines redeems itself in the eyes of the public, suggest the results of a new survey, which found that 67 percent of travellers have a negative perception about the brand, following the infamous incident in which a passenger was violently dragged out of his seat.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:May 22, 2017, 9:35 AM IST
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Deep Mistrust in Airline Industry Following United Incident
United Airlines terminal. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Joshua LOTT)

It's going to take a while before United Airlines redeems itself in the eyes of the public, suggest the results of a new survey, which found that 67 percent of travellers have a negative perception about the brand, following the infamous incident in which a passenger was violently dragged out of his seat.

In general, the results of the study suggest that customer loyalty in the airline industry is low, with nearly 60 percent of respondents saying they're not loyal to any airline.

The survey was conducted by market research group Brandigo and polled 410 adults this month.

"Airlines are failing when it comes to building loyalty with their consumers as even the frequent flier programs are flawed and harder to be a part of now," said Chris Langathianos, vice president of brand strategy for Brandigo.

"As a result, business travellers, who typically are members of these programs are less valued, and that leaves leisure travellers who are frankly not valued at all. Exceptional customer service and creative unique travel experiences for customers should be priority number one throughout the airline industry right now."

Unfortunately for United, their brand is still in damage control. Among frequent fliers, defined as those who fly more than seven times a year, 68 percent said their perception of the brand is at least somewhat negative.

Before Flight 3411 became headlines news, 82 percent of respondents in the Airlines Brand Perception Study said they were neutral or somewhat positive towards the brand.

But after the video went viral for capturing a paying customer being forcibly removed from his seat, 57 percent of respondents said their perception of the carrier has changed.

Perhaps the most troubling finding from the survey, is that more than half (54 percent) of overall respondents also said they're less willing to purchase a ticket from the carrier.

And nearly one in four (36 percent) said they'd be willing to pay more on a competing airline to avoid flying United Airlines.

"I had an unfortunate situation with United once where they did not resolve the issue well. I let it go because I like the benefits program United offers with my credit card," wrote one respondent.

"The incident of violence really disturbed me and made me question the company's morals and attitude towards paying customers."

It's not just United that has been getting bad press in recent weeks. Air Canada, Delta, JetBlue and American Airlines have also made the news cycle for troubling airline practices, deepening tensions between fliers and airline staff.

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