|Title||Key characteristics and attitudes of airline passengers, with particular emphasis upon the low-cost sector: implications for pre-trip decision-making and airline choice|
The inception of the low-cost carrier (LCC) into the UK in the early 1990s revolutionised passenger aviation. The now saturated short-haul market finds airlines increasingly manipulative of their business model, seeking to further differentiate their product offering from their rivals. With an abundance of airlines to choose from, the consumer is faced with what at times can be a complex decision-making process as to which airline to fly with.
This research seeks through empirical research to identify key characteristics and attitudes of airline passengers (with particular emphasis upon LCCs) and the implications for pre-trip decision-making and airline choice.
The study begins with an overview of the airline business models that dominate the UK passenger aviation sector, before introducing Birmingham Airport (BHX) as a case study airport on which part of the main findings of this research are based. A detailed literature review then seeks to offer insight to attitude formation and the decision-making process that facilitates behaviour, before examining the implications for airline choice.
The fieldwork was undertaken in two stages with passenger decision-making explored through structured-interviews conducted with passengers in the airside departure lounges at BHX (n = 490). In addition, the attitudes of airline passengers were explored using an online attitudinal survey, distributed internationally to a self-selected sample (n = 307).
The quantitative analysis of both strands of research suggests key differences exist in the decision-making processes and research methods employed by passengers’ of airlines operating different business models, but particularly for passengers of LCCs. Both socio-demographic and situational factors are identified as influential in decision-making and choice processes. Attitudes, based upon actual experience and social representation are also considered significant. The findings present a classification of airline passengers based upon the primary research and suggest further quantitative research should explore decision-making over time and in different situational contexts.