Reliability — And how Airlines Handled the Pandemic
In the beginning, airlines offered reimbursements or flexible rebooking for all passengers to provide them a sense of security about the money they have paid for their trip. However, this flexibility didn’t last long after the pandemic started, and now airlines seem to go back to their strict rebooking and or reimbursement policies. Therefore, passengers now are also thinking more if risking flying, knowing governments change their lockdown policies very fast. These might imply paying high fees for rebooking or, worse, quarantine if flights are canceled.
Regularity & Reliability — An Airline’s most Important Asset!
Here is where a KPI such as regularity also becomes relevant for passengers who want to make sure the airline they are considering traveling with, it’s reliable and has a stable operation. Based on a study from one of the biggest online travel brands, eDreams, we could identify the category of reliability within their top 10 best airlines in the world.
The reliability score is an average of the flight cancellation rate between a defined period and a score for airline flexibility around customer rebooking.
According to the study, the top 5 most reliable airlines are:
|Rank||Airline||Country||Reliability Score (out of 5)|
|5||British Airways||United Kingdom||3.8|
Schedule Regularity — A Crucial Airline KPI
A crucial KPI that tracks the ratio of cancellations of all scheduled flights from a specific airline is Schedule Regularity. The possibility for travelers to track an airline’s regularity can provide an overview of the reliability of the operations. We can follow this behavior per day in real-time or within defined periods such as hourly, weekly, or monthly. Having access to this information can allow customers to have insights regarding the airline they consider for their following holiday destination.
Below there are just a few examples:
Real-time: This shows the regularity of the entire day.
Hourly: It shows the regularity on an hourly basis during a 24h period.
Weekly (Last 7 Days): Reflects the regularity of the last seven days, including the current day.
Monthly (Last 30 Days): Reflects the regularity of the last 30 days, including the current day.
Airline Reliability Target
Airlines usually have a minimum target of 95% schedule regularity. If regularity is less than the target, the operation can be considered irregular. Suppose passengers would be able to track this performance indicator from their devices before their trips. In that case, they could evaluate if the airline they are considering is reliable or if this risk is high of having the flights canceled.
Now imagine, you don’t have only one airline in mind but some additional options. The possibility for travelers to compare the regularity between their top 3 options and compare them will also help facilitate their choice and feel more secure with their decision.
This possibility can also facilitate their decision in terms of which airline can provide the highest guarantee of reliability. Of course, this also depends on each airline’s rebooking policies. However, an airline having a high regularity rate can avoid requiring a rebooking if not desired.
As reliability also depends on the airline’s rebooking policies, we can consider some additional KPIs for knowing if an airline is reliable.
- Refund Processing Rate: This KPI the rate of processed refunds vs. the total refunds requested.
- Speed for Refunds Approval: Average time for approving a refund.
- Rebooking Options Rating: The previous study’s categorization used the ranking 1 being the least flexible to 5 being the most flexible. The flexibility implies allowing customers to rebook their tickets as many times as they like, to a different destination or on a different date, free of charge.
As each of the airlines must be entirely transparent with their refund policy, the customer will know what to expect if a rebooking is required.
Further Aspects to Consider
In other cases, as some countries have rigorous policies in terms of transit times to avoid quarantine, punctuality becomes a crucial KPI for passengers. Some countries allow transit passengers to stay in the country for a maximum of 6 hours to not go through quarantine. If the passenger exceeds the maximum transit time, they will require to do the minimum required time. If a flight is delayed and passengers surpass the transit time, then passengers will assume the consequences. An excellent example for this case is Virgin Australia flight VA469 which had such a delay that it arrived after midnight (initiation of the local ban). Due to the flight delay and passengers were forced to quarantine for 14 days. The possibility of passengers tracking airline punctuality can also offer security and awareness when selecting the airline for their trip.
Nowadays, one of the aspects that will help travelers gain confidence in traveling is the information available to reduce uncertainty. The more accessible the data is to the passengers, the more they will be likely to retake their traveling plans.
eDreams. The Best Airlines in the World 2021. Link
Adams, Dia., Lupini, Caroline. Master List of All Major International Airline Coronavirus Change And Cancellation Policies. Forbes. February 5, 2021.
Marcus, Lilit. A domestic flight in Australia was delayed so long passengers had to quarantine. CNN Travel. April 28, 2021.