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Travelling This Summer? 120 Million Airport Passengers Tell the Times You Should Avoid

120 million passengers have given their feedback at 100 airports all over the world via the HappyOrNot® Smiley Terminal™, and the data shows that if you want to have a great airport experience during your travels, avoid Saturdays and Sundays, and reconsider late July and late August.

There are many articles, such as those by farecompare, offering tips and advice for the best times and cheapest or most expensive days to book flights – of course, the starting point for travelling – yet few, if any, address the best or worst days for the in-airport experiences which can weigh heavily on starting or ending travels positively. “No one wants to kick off their travels with a bad airport experience that can sour their holiday,” says Heikki Väänänen, CEO and Founder of HappyOrNot. “Of course, it may not always be unavoidable, but knowing when it may occur and preparing for it can soften the impact.”

Last year, HappyOrNot published its global study for the Best Day for Air Travel identifying Wednesday as the day with highest passenger satisfaction. Again, this year, HappyOrNot has investigated its data, but to address the opposite.  Over 41 million passenger feedbacks from 2016 have been analysed to spot trends and traveller satisfaction ratings across various aspects of the airport experience during certain days, hours, and times of year, to help people travel smarter and avoid times with lower satisfaction levels.

Worst day, hours, and time of year for traveller satisfaction

Avoid Saturdays and Sundays. Though Saturdays are often reported as one of the cheaper days to travel, it appears that there is a trade-off required in terms of having a satisfied airport experience. In fact, year after year, our data shows that Saturdays and Sundays prove to be the worst days, and especially around the red-eye flight times between midnight and 2am. However, if you must travel through an airport on a weekend, consider aiming between 5am and 8am to minimize the headache.

2016 Aviation Satisfaction benchmark by weekday

The HappyOrNot data also shows that August and July are the lowest ranked months. “This doesn’t come as a surprise,” tells Väänänen. “These summer months represent the peak vacation travel season and increase of traffic at airports which can cause congestion, delays, and angry passengers if not managed well by airport authorities. This is why measuring passenger satisfaction at all times is instrumental to maintaining a positive flow that will be felt by both staff and customers.”

2016 Aviation Satisfaction benchmark by month

As for 2017 to date, the data shows the ranking to be following similar trends.

Top surveyed areas and satisfaction rating

It comes as no surprise that security, often the biggest pain point of the airport experience for passengers, is the top surveyed function by airports. Other main measurement areas are restrooms, check-in, and baggage claims. Airports realize the need to take a customer-focused approach to monitoring – especially security checkpoint performance – the passenger experience, because it can have a significant impact on future enplanement intentions and airport rankings.

The following ratings, compiled anonymously from HappyOrNot’s database of 100 global airports and 41 million airport traveller feedbacks in 2016, represents the 2016 traveller satisfaction benchmark of each main measurement area, including comparison to the 2015 values:

1. Security experience

15.9 million passengers rated their satisfaction at 86.3% – an increase of 1.4 percentage points from 2015. Best day: Tuesday. Worst day: Sunday, especially from evening to night.

2. Restroom cleanliness

7 million passengers rated their satisfaction at 73.8% – an increase of 3.1 percentage point from 2015. Best day: Wednesday. Worst day: Sunday, with overall decline starting from 7pm until 3am.

 3. Check-in experience

1.9 million passengers rated their satisfaction at 78.7% – an increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2015. Best day: Tuesdays. Worst day: Sundays. Both days have consistent lowest scores during 9pm and 2am.

4. Baggage claims

1.2 million passengers rated their satisfaction at 75.5% – an increase of 1.4 percentage points from 2015. Best day: Thursday. Worst day: Sunday, especially between 1am and 4am.

Passenger experience is an important KPI

Today, over 100 airports across the globe use HappyOrNot to measure satisfaction across all main areas of their operations, and combined have collected over 120 million passenger feedbacks. Airports understand the reputational and financial impact of passenger satisfaction and the importance of implementing measures to ensure excellence. Examples of such airports employing HappyOrNot for this purpose are Dulles International and Reagan National Airports in the United States:

“We are committed to continuous improvement in the passenger experience.  Within 6 months of deploying the HappyOrNot kiosks, over 250,000 data points were collected giving us the ability to quickly understand our customer’s perception of the changes we have made and determine whether they are having the desired impact,” says Gene Sutch, Director, Revenue Strategy & Analysis of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

He continues: “The hourly HappyOrNot feedback combined with our monthly online customer survey and daily website comments help us gain more knowledge on how to ensure that our customers have the best possible airport experience at Dulles International and Reagan National Airports.”


About HappyOrNot

HappyOrNot® is the global leader in instant customer and employee satisfaction reporting. Our innovative feedback collecting smileys and intelligent data analytics reporting service help our clients to improve their customer experience, relationships, and employee engagement. We serve nearly 4,000 companies across 117 countries and have collected and reported on over a half billion feedbacks.

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