A number of airlines have predicted that younger people will return to the skies before any other age group. Millennials, often seen as bigger risk-takers, have been pinpointed as those most likely to fly sooner in a post-COVID world. However, US boutique airline JetBlue is not seeing this trend, and thanks to the open dialogue it has with its passengers, it should know.
Age is not a defining factor
As airlines around the world begin gearing up for a return to flying, many are asking themselves who the new target market is. While most agree that regional traffic will return before international, many are foreseeing the younger generation taking to the skies before older people come back.
Joanna Geraghty, President and COO of JetBlue in an interview for World Aviation Festival, talked about getting passengers back onto the plane. When asked about whether she saw a generational divide among those willing to return to flying, Geraghty said,
“We’re not seeing that, no.”
She went on to say,
“The customer surveys we’ve been doing (and we’ve been doing a lot of them), all the different indicators [show] a fairly consistent response across customers in regard to what will get them flying again. It’s really focused around all the safety measures and the health measures we’re doing right now. Our data shows that you need to have the same protocols in place.
“I’m not a millennial, but if I were a millennial, I’d want a clean aircraft just like someone who’s a baby boomer. And that’s what our data is showing us.”
This is in contrast to what some other airline CEO’s are predicting. In a recent interview, Wizz Air CEO Josef Varadi said that,
“We are expecting the younger people to come back before the older people. We are expecting the holidaymakers to move first.”
However, JetBlue is at an advantage. The airline is collecting bucketloads of data from its customers, requesting surveys on every flight it operates. Joanna says that more passengers than ever before are willingly completing surveys, and this is giving JetBlue a great insight into what people need to return to flying.
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Cleanliness is more important than age
JetBlue’s passenger surveys are more valuable than ever right now. It’s giving the airline a robust understanding of where passenger worries are, and what will encourage people back to the skies. Geraghty said,
“[The survey results have] actually been really interesting to see. Because you hear anecdotally that something is going to be very important for customers to start flying again, and then you actually look at the data, and it may not be as important as you thought.”
It’s a smart move by the US airline and is allowing it to make the changes its customers demand most. By focusing on the things that passengers really need, Geraghty thinks age will no longer be a significant issue. She said,
“I think aircraft cleanliness and clean air – those are some of the things that customers will say actually matters. Health matters, health in restaurants, health when you go to the grocery store… all these things matter, and there is a far greater focus from all generations on that.”
While the rest of the industry is gearing up for younger fliers to return first, JetBlue is driving to get everyone back on the plane, regardless of age, by meeting their needs and expectations better. Cleanliness, it seems, is going to be a huge defining factor in airline choice going forwards.