Share this:


According to our 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, “Overall Value” (along with related rates and extra charges) is the 3rd most-important engagement and loyalty driver in the airline category.

Don’t get us wrong, we understand that travelers (and everyone else these days) don’t want to pay more than they have to, but this is “value” we’re talking about – not just price, and they’re two entirely different things. “Price” is what something costs. “Value” is the perceived benefit received, divided by those costs. We think it worthy of mention because a lot of the larger airlines – U.S. and foreign carriers – are apparently getting really tired of being undercut in terms of price by those budget airlines and, with the current lower fuel prices, are introducing low-price fares of their own, the operative word being “price,” and not “value.”

Yes, the prices are (or shortly will be) really low, but the benefits will be totally no-frills. To be clear, not “economy,” but “no frills, a flight known as a “bare-fare,” meaning all the non-essential features have (or shortly will be) removed. So you won’t be able to select a seat in advance of your flight. You board last. Baggage fees will be different, i.e., higher, and you might have to pay for carry-ons. No snacks, no free drinks, no mileage points, no exchanges or refunds – ever. And (ha!), no upgrades! How are you feeling about those low-cost fares now?

See, after “Overall Safety, Effortless Check-In, and Security,” which is the 1st most-important category engagement and loyalty driver, comes the emotional part of flying; “Easing the Effort,” which has to do with things like seats, in-flight extras, service, and cuisine. Not food. Not snacks, but “cuisine,” because that’s how consumer expectations work. Third is, as mentioned, “Overall Value,” and the last engagement driver is “Carrier Reputation & Tech Options.”

According to our survey, U.S. and Canadian airlines currently rank as follows on an overall basis:

  1. JetBlue
  2. Air Canada
  3. Delta
  4. United/American
  5. West Jet/Southwest
  6. Frontier
  7. Spirit

Coincidence that all the budget airlines are at the bottom of the engagement and loyalty list? We don’t think so. But the next time you’re looking to make an airline reservation we recommend some common sense. It was political activist, revolutionary, and, apparently, marketer, Thomas Paine in fact, who wrote, “what we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

See? Price versus value!


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.

Share this: