People love to complain. That really works as a general rule in life but when it comes to airlines there are many who have turned it into something of an art form. Railing on the airlines for bad service has become so commonplace that it is almost white noise at this point rather than a solid rebuke of legitimate complaints (and I’m sure I am, from time to time, part of the problem here though I try not to be). As consumers there is often the hope that airlines will realize they’ll win more customers if they’d just offer better service. Having employees be nice isn’t hard and rarely costs extra, after all, and those happier passengers will return more often and buy more tickets. Except that’s not how the real world works apparently.
Forbes has a infographic out this week comparing ticket sales to airline satisfaction ratings. And it includes this not-too-surprising conclusion: “Apparent correlation: zero.” Looking at the domestic carriers they show no correlation between AQR scores and tickets sold.
Of course, there are plenty of reasons to doubt this data. For one, they’re using the AQR which has some strange metrics they use to transform DoT complaints into a perceived ranking of airline satisfaction. I’ve written about the AQR study previously and my views there haven’t really changed; I still think it fails in statistical significance for some categories. Also, the report seems to be missing a few airlines (notably Alaska Airlines and Virgin America). I don’t know if that’s because the data on them might actually counter the claim or that the infographic people were lazy or something else. But it is strange that they are excluded.
Statistics are fun to play with and often easy to skew to support any particular claim. In this case the numbers seem to be working against customers. I wonder if it really is true.
h/t Ty for sharing the link to the Forbes story.
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