Travelers Embrace Airline Apps, Curse Trump Effect

New data reveals that the vast majority of travelers believe airline apps improve the travel experience. However 74% of Americans believe the Trump administration is making travel more difficult.

A study by Helpshift found that 83% of American travelers and 95% of airline loyalty members appreciate airline apps. The Trump effect is likely due to recent news regarding actions surrounding Muslim travel and laptop bans. It has caused those from foreign countries to avoid traveling to the U.S. and the proposed laptop ban makes professional travel difficult to some countries. 

With the impending confusion and delays, the research also shows customers will be turning to their device, not the customer service agent, for help with 89% of travelers saying they’d want to use a customer support feature in an airline app while flying. When asked why, respondents cited convenience (61%), don’t have to wait for the flight attendant (36%), need help connecting to Wi-Fi (38%) and because flight attendants are too busy handling difficult passengers (26%).



Eighty-one percent of American adults use smartphone apps to manage different aspects of their lives. More than a fifth (21%) use airline apps, and, of those, the vast majority (83%) feel these apps improve their flying experience. These figures are even higher among airline loyalty members, 42% of whom use airline apps and 95% of whom feel these apps improve their experience.

Nearly half (47%) of American travelers (described as those who use airline apps) and more than half (53%) of airline loyalty members say that this is because they like being able to see flight and airport information right on their smartphone. Another 45% of travelers and 54% of airline loyalty members say they like being able to check in directly from the app.

A minority of travelers say they like airline apps because they dislike interacting with people (15% of travelers and 17% of airline loyalty members) and because they feel they are smarter than people working in the airline industry (11% of travelers and 19% of airline loyalty members).

“There is a marked shift occurring in consumer expectations around how they interact with brands,” said Abinash Tripathy, founder and CEO of Helpshift, in a release.“People want to interact with brands the way they interact with friends: through messages and apps. These survey results underscore the fact that people prefer apps as their first port of call for customer service and support. Airlines that provide more sophisticated in-app support are more likely to enjoy stronger customer engagement and loyalty.”

Airline apps that are not providing in-app service and support are missing an opportunity to engage customers, Tripathy says. The study found that 96% of travelers and 92% of loyalty members surveyed said if they experienced a problem mid-flight that was resolved through in-app customer support, they would likely recommend that airline to friends; 63% of travelers and 59% of loyalty members said they would be “very likely.” 

The survey was conducted by Radius Global Market Research June 12-13 among adults ages 18+ that explored American travelers’ interest in airline apps and in-app support.

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