Last week Australian consumer advocacy group Choice made a lofty claim: Jetstar is the world’s worst airline. It was part of an international survey into airline customer satisfaction that was conducted by 10 different consumer organisations. Except, the Choice survey is flawed. Jetstar isn’t the worst airline in the world, perhaps not even Australia. Here’s why:

  • Survey participants came from only eight countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. None from the USA, Canada, UK, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, China… the list goes on. How any “world’s worst” claim can be taken seriously when these areas weren’t included is like saying that pineapple on pizza is the world’s best pizza topping after surveying only Queenslanders.
  • Choice didn’t consider Jetstar’s main competitor Tigerair in the results as it “didn’t have enough responses”. Choice has not released the survey data but says 745 respondents came from Australia. How they were selected is not clear. Report data from the Australian Airline Customer Advocate (2015) shows that Tigerair makes up a much higher % of consumer complaints in Oz so if they were considered I expect they would have ranked lower.
  • On time performance (OTP) data for 2016 shows that Jetstar performed worse than other Australian airlines, but not much worse than Tiger. March 2017 OTP data shows Jetstar has improved, arriving on time 69.9% (Tigerair 66.2%) and departing on time 67.7% (Tigerair 67%). Jetstar’s % of cancellations was slightly higher (2.7% vs 2.4%). They are essentially equals in this respect.
  • Choice doesn’t state whether the OTP data they used was taken from official sources or from customer feedback. OTP data sourced from passengers from such a limited selection of countries means only international services may have been factored and not domestic services.
  • There are cost and value differences to be considered when comparing full service airlines with low cost carriers in the same list.

However, the biggest red flag is how poorly Qantas and Virgin Australia performed. Two standout airlines that are consistently awarded for their service but scored a miserable 36 and 51 respectively.

The Choice survey says more about Australian travellers than it does Jetstar:

  1. Australian’s have high expectations when they fly
  2. Australian’s have a great selection of airlines to choose from

What do you think?