BERLIN: The commercial aviation sector has experienced considerable turbulence since Covid-19 first emerged in early 2020 – a year that saw global air travel decline by a staggering 67 percent. In the two years since, the pandemic has had a profound impact on passenger trends and preferences, a new survey by Germany-based travel site Wingie has found.
“Covid has dramatically changed the attitudes and priorities of most travelers today,” Orkun Özkan, senior commercial manager of Wingie, says. “Before the pandemic, health and hygiene concerns were relatively insignificant. Now they’re among the leading factors affecting flight selection.”
Ticket Prices No Longer ‘Top Priority’
Designed to track changing customer habits, the survey found that two out of three passengers (66.67%) prefer seats at the front of the aircraft, while only 6% want to sit in the rear. “This suggests that most people want to minimize time spent on the plane, presumably due to health concerns,” Özkan says.
Other findings, however, serve to reconfirm longstanding pre-pandemic customer trends. For example, a large majority of passengers still prefer window seats (82%), while most still opt for morning departures (36%) rather than overnight ‘red-eye’ flights (12.5%).
One of the survey’s more interesting findings is that, despite increased health concerns, in-flight food service – at no additional cost – remains a “top priority” for more than one third (35%) of those surveyed. Ticket prices, by contrast, no longer represent a top priority for most passengers as they did in the pre-pandemic period, the survey found.
Tracking Trends with Eye on Customer Satisfaction
Available in five different languages, Wingie’s global flight-booking service allows it to instantly track the changing habits and preferences of its more than 17 million users worldwide. “With the use of digital technology, we can closely follow changing trends – in real time – with a view to optimizing customer satisfaction,” Özkan says.
Özkan believes global air traffic will soon return to pre-pandemic levels, especially in light of ongoing vaccination campaigns. “But pandemic-era passenger trends will likely persist – at least in the short- to mid-term.”