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Ground-down passengers face airline chaos

Huge spike in app use as Aussies try to navigate ongoing airport and flight turmoil

It seems that on an almost daily basis we are being bombarded with yet another ‘airline horror’ story and it’s not just the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs)who are copping it, some of the world’s most reputable carriers with impeccable records are finding themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

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Take the story of the airline which booked a 13-month-old baby on a separate flight than her parents en route from Europe to Thailand. The family was reportedly stuck in Rome for 12 days until the next available flight after spending over 20 hours on the phone to the airline’s customer helpline.

Then there’s the airline which forgot to put a passenger’s wheelchair on his flight from New York to Dublin. The man spent two days on vacation without his wheelchair and at one stage was considering returning home to collect his spare chair.

How about the bride-to-be who experienced her worst nightmare when her luggage with wedding dress, jewellery and honeymoon clothes inside got lost somewhere between Lisbon, Frankfurt and Dublin.

Then there’s the hundreds of Australians who have been stranded in Bali due to their LCC airline cancelling numerous flights citing COVID-induced flight crew shortages, many of whom, fearing they might lose their jobs,  have had to fork out thousands of dollars to fly home using other carriers.

Timely then new data released by market intelligence company Sensor Tower  which reveals Aussies are spending nearly 20 percent more time in our nation’s top airline apps as they continue to battle the airline crisis, navigating flight cancellations, missing baggage and chaos at airports.

Unsurprisingly, app downloads for both AU’s top airlines, as well as international airlines, have increased since borders reopened in February 2022, seeing a huge spike in June 2022 when a record number of flights were cancelled or ran late.

As Australian airlines continue to be pummelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sensor Tower data has revealed:

  • Australia’s airline and airport mayhem was first reported in April, just before the Easter holidays when the number of passengers flying domestically was the highest since the pandemic began. This is reflected in Sensor Tower data which shows all seven airline apps downloads increased from March to April. 
  • There was then a huge spike in app downloads in June 2022 following  only 63 per cent of Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar flights arriving on time, where Aussies were using the apps to navigate the delays.
  • This has continued into July as many Aussies look to flock overseas to escape the winter weather.
  • Qantas Airways is the most downloaded app, followed by Virgin Australia and Jetstar.
  • This follows the news that Qantas was asking execs to handle baggage last month and Virgin Australia will be following  in the footsteps of Qantas as it grounds all international flights for two and a half months and halving its domestic flights.
  • Analysing time spent in each app, the majority of Aussie airlines have seen up to a 17 percent increase in average daily time spent in-app.
  • Interestingly, the daily average time spent in the Qantas app has returned to where it was at the start of the year, but grew considerably in April when Australia’s aviation chaos began.

Commentating on the trends, Sensor Tower Managing  Director Australia-Pacific, Tom Cui said in addition to the company’s data revealing a huge increase in app downloads and an increasing amount of time spent in these apps as consumers flock back to airports, perhaps more notable is that active users  for major airlines such as Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia have recently surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“Despite this surge in demand however, airlines have had to deal with a troublesome mix of pent-up travel demand with uneven resources and labour shortages. This has led to an unprecedented number of flight cancellations and delays for many Aussies,” he said. 

“Ongoing weather-related events aren’t helping the situation either and we’re regularly reminded of the chaos with consumers posting videos of queues snaking out of check in terminals.

“Those airline apps with a user-friendly experience will be best placed to help brands bounce back from Australia’s airline crisis, further easing the burden on staff and regaining the trust of consumers. 

“We expect the Christmas holiday period to be a busy one this year and at Sensor Tower we’ll be keeping our finger on the pulse of these aviation brands to reveal consumer trends.”

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