This article reports an empirical study into airline consumer purchase behavior on a major global route between the United Kingdom (UK) and Taipei. It focuses on the factors influencing airline choice for a sample of 60 Taiwanese students based at UK Universities and traveling on five airlines: British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, EVA Airways, and Royal Dutch Airways. Several stages of data gathering were undertaken and a well‐established analytical framework for services marketing was used to identify gaps between the desired and received service. The main findings suggest that service quality, including in‐flight entertainment, cabin crew attitude, and seating comfort, can be as important as, or more important than, price in student purchase decisions for long‐haul flights. Other important factors in carrier choice included student discounts, baggage allowances, and airline safety record.