A survey by Porsche Consulting shows German passengers seek legroom and safety before worrying about price. 

Domestic flights in Germany are comparatively low-priced. But only a small minority of domestic air travellers are resolute bargain hunters. Just 13 of 100 passengers would set their maximum price for a short flight (round trip) at 80 euros. That is one result of a recent representative survey from the Porsche Consulting management consultancy. Eighty euros represent roughly the lowest price that airlines offer in special deals. Most of these flights must be booked far in advance and do not include customer-friendly cancellation policies. 25% of travellers would accept a ticket price of 100 euros. Nearly half (45%) are prepared to spend considerably more than 100 euros per ticket. 26% set their upper limit at 150 euros. 12% would go up to 200 euros. And 7% would even spend more than 200 euros.

Air travelers are particularly concerned about safety. The highest level of reliability for both the crew and aircraft is the most important factor for 94% of respondents. Other important criteria include punctuality (91%), full refunds for cancellation (85%), no baggage fees (78%), shorter waits between check-in and takeoff (77%), and sufficient legroom (72%). If markedly low-priced tickets mean seats with excessively reduced legroom, 61% of respondents would sacrifice the bargain price for a somewhat more comfortable flight. Especially for the least expensive tickets, some airlines have used every possible means over recent years to increase the number of seats within a fixed amount of space.

On short flights, however, many passengers consider some services superfluous—especially if doing without them results in lower ticket prices. 66% of respondents do not need free drinks or snacks on board. A good half of all passengers (53%) are not interested in reserving specific seats. 42% would print their boarding passes at machines or online and would check in their luggage at self-service stations rather than ticket counters if that would lower costs. Opinions differ on the question of Internet access above the clouds. Only 13% of the 30+ age group would pay extra for online access during short flights. This figure nearly doubles for respondents under 30 years of age, to 25 percent.

The ever more restrictive “frequent flyer” customer loyalty programs appear to be losing their appeal. Only one in five passengers see substantial value in such programs for short flights that add relatively few miles to their totals anyway. Frequent flyers, however—especially among business travelers—would not like to lose the opportunity to earn rewards and free flights with the miles they accumulate.

“All analyses predict a further substantial increase in passenger volumes over the next two decades,” says Joachim Kirsch, Senior Partner at Porsche Consulting. “So airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and airports should now be taking the most important customer wishes even more strongly into account. No cuts should be made in safety or good service.” An expert in the aviation sector, Kirsch recommends that companies streamline their organisational structures. “Higher levels of efficiency, particularly in internal processes, can free up the funds that need to be invested into greater customer orientation.” A special priority should be placed on reducing unnecessarily long waits before flights, while boarding, and after landing. An equally important factor consists of acceptable seat comfort, including in the most economical booking class. Kirsch is convinced that with the right strategy, the industry can avoid ruinous price wars. As he concludes, “Most passengers will pay reasonable ticket prices for the really important services.”