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Airline Loyalty? Not Much!

Do airline loyalty schemes actually foster loyalty among the programs’ millions of members?

According to a new poll, conducted for TheStreet by GfK and reported on by Business Traveler, a solid 63 percent of Americans have no loyalty to any particular airline. Or, presumably, to any particular loyalty program.

That would suggest that mileage considerations play only a minor role in travelers’ choice of airlines. And indeed, only 5 percent of the survey respondents cited miles as their primary focus when choosing an airline.

Following price, the following were respondents’ picks for the most important factors affecting their choice of carriers:

  • Non-stop service – 28%
  • Convenient departure time – 20%
  • Airline reputation – 15%
  • Frequency of service – 11%

And when it comes to what annoys flyers the most:

  • 73% are annoyed by high ticket costs
  • 70% are annoyed by bag fees
  • 68% are annoyed by cancelled or delayed flights
  • 64% are annoyed by uncomfortable seats
  • 63% are annoyed by rude staff
  • 56% are annoyed by charging for snacks
  • 48% are annoyed by closing the gate early

So, lots of annoyed travelers and very little in the way of loyalty. That’s a pretty damning picture of the airline industry. It also represents a business opportunity, for an airline to distinguish itself by doing just a bit better than the others.

Reader Reality Check

What would an airline have to do to earn your loyalty?

This article originally appeared on

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