Delta tops business travel satisfaction survey

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Delta tops business travel satisfaction survey

Increasing numbers of executives are turning to serviced apartments and corporate housing as alternatives to the typical corporate suites at chain hotels. This type of accommodation could become even more popular in the coming years, as organizations seek to minimize spending on business travel without compromising on quality. Even if they choose to take advantage of the service and convenience of these alternatives, executives heading out on the road will more than likely have to rely on air travel to get them where they need to go. With so many airlines to choose from, it can be challenging finding the right carrier at the right price. According to a recent survey conducted by Business Travel News, Delta Airlines emerged as the clear choice for discerning professionals seeking the very best service from a business carrier.

Exceeding expectations
The news source's annual airline survey assessed each major carrier in the U.S. according to a variety of criteria. Booking flexibility, pricing, in-flight amenities, punctuality and overall customer satisfaction were among the factors considered, and frequent corporate fliers were invited to submit their votes for the best service provider. For the second consecutive year, Delta was named the best commercial airline in the U.S., and also gained the accolade of becoming the first carrier to score top marks in every category of the survey.

Perhaps surprisingly, American Airlines secured second place. The beleaguered carrier, which recently announced a merger with US Airways, has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months, including declining profits and bankruptcy protection. Despite these challenges, American secured a significant portion of the reader vote. United Airlines, which ranked second in last year's survey, dropped to last place in the most recent report.

Although a majority of airlines either improved or maintained their ratings from last year, overall, many business travelers in the U.S. remain dissatisfied with domestic air travel. Approximately 31 percent of the 377 corporate travel buyers surveyed by the news source indicated that standards in business-class air travel had declined in the past 12 months. An additional 40 percent said they had not noticed any discernible change in the level of service provided by major U.S. carriers.

Cornering the market
In an increasingly competitive space, Delta seeks to not only impress frequent corporate travelers, but tourists on a budget, too. According to the Los Angeles Times, the airline is planning a range of improvements for its services to appeal to travelers.

Officials at the airline recently confirmed that a new class of service, known as "Economy Comfort," will be introduced on transcontinental routes departing from the the States. Additional amenities including free movies and television shows will be included as part of the in-flight entertainment packages in standard coach class, and free alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and spirits will be served to customers traveling in Economy Comfort class.

The announcement is part of wider changes at Delta to secure a greater share of the domestic aviation market in the U.S. 

"We've been making an investment in our transcontinental service, phasing in full flat-bed seats [in BusinessElite class] and larger Economy Comfort sections," said Leslie Scott, a spokeswoman for Delta, as quoted by the news source.

Delta could face stiff competition for customer dollars in the coming years due to the impending merger of American Airlines and US Airways. Should the proposed alliance be approved, approximately 80 percent of domestic flight routes across the U.S. will be handled by just four carriers. While this may be good news for shareholders, passengers could face higher fees, reduced services and less choices.