Foreign Carriers Rate Highly in Latest Survey

International travelers were recently asked which airlines they felt offered the most satisfaction when traveling overseas, and you may be surprised at the results.

The International Destination Satisfaction Survey by J.D. Power has found that the airline travelers rated as number one for flights between North America and Europe was Turkish Airlines, with those choosing to fly between North America and Asia opting for Japan airlines.

So what has happened with American companies such as United Airlines, American Airlines or Delta? It seems that even with many airlines adding extra flights, the number of comfortable seats being increased as well as several new amenities added to specific flights, international travelers prefer to book their travel through foreign carriers.

Michael Taylor looks after travel intelligence for J.D. Power and commented that “what we normally hear is all U.S. based airlines don’t do as well as the European or Asian or Middle Eastern airlines, but they held their own in this study.”

Out of the three main American airlines Delta achieved the highest rating for flights not only to Asia but also to Europe, therefore validating the company’s decision to increase the number of seats and flights available.

For instance, Delta changed several of its airplanes in 2017 to enable them to include a new area of seats as well as services. Delta Premium Select, located between the main cabin and Delta One business class, has bigger seats and space allowing them to be reclined further back than any that are available in the main cabin. They have also provided a footrest and improved the meals served to their passengers.

These improvements, and the area’s new name, have given Delta an improved selling point for their seats with each Premium Select ticket costing more than a seat in coach, however they are much cheaper than seats in business class.

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Ed Bastian, Chief Executive Officer of Delta, confirmed that the Premium Select cabin had been a success confirming that the “passenger demand for the product has been phenomenal.”

United has not been so fortunate and has come in as one of the lowest rated airlines that offers flights between North America and Asia. But this low rating has not come as a surprise to Taylor:

“One of the big things that we see with the second-time flyer is past experience, and United’s past experience has not been that great, but it is improving.”

The most surprising aspect of the survey from J.D. Power was the wide differences for passengers trying to book their first trip compared to those who had booked flights before.

For those booking their first trip overseas it was discovered that pricing was the major factor. However, the travelers who fly regularly, or even a few times before, confirmed they chose their flights and airlines depending on previous experiences – particularly for long haul destinations such as Asia and Europe.

As Taylor explains:

“They’re looking to say ‘Okay, I had great service. I’m going to spend a couple hundred dollars more on that ticket and have a more comfortable flight, more enjoyable flight on this long haul.'”

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With more and more travelers happy to spend more money on their flights than in the past, this means that the majority of airlines are investing more money as well as time on all their flights to Europe and Asia. For instance, the one area where airlines are predominantly making an effort is in the refreshment department of the flights, with many meals and drinks being improved all round.

In fact, one of the main reasons Turkish Airlines was rated so highly for their flights between North America and Europe was because of their food and drink service with “the food and beverage service on Turkish is something that people mentioned an awful lot.”

It remains to be seen if American Airlines, United and Delta can not only match their foreign adversaries on their long haul flights — especially to destinations such as Europe and Asia — and if they can it is unclear if they will be able to maintain their standards.

But as Taylor has mentioned, the home-grown airlines will want to appeal to the “high-ticket-passenger, so they are ‘putting more investment into it.'”

The top rated airlines between North America and Europe are:
1. Turkish Airlines
2. Virgin Atlantic
3. British Airways and Delta (tie)
4. Air France
5. American Airlines
6. United Airlines
7. Lufthansa
8. KLM
9. Air Canada
10. Norwegian

While the top rated airlines between North America and Europe are:
1. Japan Airlines
2. Delta
3. Korean Air
4. ANA
5. Cathay Pacific
6. Air China
7. EVA Air
8. American Airlines
9. Air Canada
10. China Eastern Airlines
11. United Airlines

Read the full 2019 Airline International Destination Satisfaction Survey from J.D. Power here.