How to turn airline travellers flight delay stress into airport lounge rest

Marketing Team
Marketing Team
07 Sep 2023

Woman Standing in an airport checking her mobile

While heightened disruption across our skies is set to continue as the travel sector works hard to bounce back to 2019 levels  , how do we ensure that our customers are not left stranded in the airport departure lounge when their flight is delayed or cancelled? 

Figures published on Wednesday (9 August) by aviation analytics firm Cirium show that flight capacity is at 89% of 2019 levels, with 92,549 services scheduled to depart from UK airports. This is a 4% increase on the first six months of the year, when flight capacity was at 85% of pre-pandemic levels. Flights are currently up 11% and 101% on August 2022 and 2021 respectively, following a resurgence in both business and leisure travel (1)

Whether setting off on a much-needed holiday, a weekend city break with friends or a visit to see family, we all want a smooth and hassle-free journey. With the latest flight delay statistics2 indicating that almost 1 in 4 flights globally are delayed by at least 15 minutes and with 133 million travellers across the globe impacted by flight delays of over 1 hour, there is an increasing need to address airline travellers’ growing stress and anxiety when they embark on their journeys. In Europe over the last year, there were more than 2.1 million commercial flights and an estimated 61,000 flights delayed by more than 60 minutes. If we take an average of 141 passengers per flight and multiply this by the estimated 61,000 flight delays, we will see more than 8.6 million customers impacted. In fact, global air passenger traffic is expected to more than double over the coming 20 years (2).

Collinson customer research4 shows that 75.5% of UK respondents feel frustration and 72.5% feel stress when being faced with a delayed flight. Rarely are airline travellers offered an immediate solution to the unexpected problems they are faced with because of the delay. 

Flight delays can disrupt travel plans, lead to wasted time at the airport, and cause passengers to endure uncomfortable and often crowded waiting areas. Additionally, airline travellers may have limited access to amenities, such as comfortable seating, food and beverages, during their delay. 

When a flight is delayed, customers can receive compensatory food and drinks vouchers, although this does depend on the airline, cause of the delay and its length. Those with a travel insurance policy, again depending on the situation, can claim for flight delay compensation after their trip. In the UK, only 46% of respondents are aware of airline compensation and only 19% have used it; 45% are aware of travel insurance delay compensation but only 11% have claimed (3)

However, neither option caters to the immediate problem of what can be done to alleviate the inconvenience a flight delay poses there and then. Collinson customer research shows that 71.1% and 63.1% respectively of UK respondents would eat and drink to pass the time and 55% would use the internet (4).

Access to an airport lounge and all that it offers, is an extremely attractive option for any delayed passengers – be that a calm escape from the crowds, being able to use WIFI and charge mobile devices or not have an unexpected food and drinks bill. 

SmartDelay™ aims to alleviate these issues by providing airline travellers with access to an airport lounge or alternative benefit  in the event their flight is disrupted.  Our network covers over 1,400 global airport lounges and lounge alternatives, in over 500 airports across more than 100 countries. The lounge network typically offers more comfortable seating, quiet environments, complimentary snacks and beverages, charging stations, business facilities and entertainment options, as well as lounge alternatives such as spa experiences, sleep pods and discounts at bars and restaurants. 

By offering airline travellers access to our lounge network, SmartDelay seeks to enhance the overall travel experience and make flight disruptions more manageable and enjoyable for passengers. Customers receive a QR code to redeem there and then for access to their chosen benefit. 

For when there is no airport lounge, SmartDelay+ can provide an on-the-go cash substitute, food and drinks voucher, or member rewards, for airline travellers in the event of flight disruptions. Customers receive cash into a payment account or a digital food and drinks voucher. A partnership with AirHelp, the world’s largest air passenger rights advocate  also provides customers with access to claim additional compensation under EC 261 regulations. 

So, for companies looking to differentiate their retail travel insurance or core product offering, acquire and retain more customers, or boost ancillary revenue, a lounge access service or alternative benefit could be the answer you’re looking for.

2. Cirium, 1st July 2022 – 30th June 2023
4. Collinson Group, February 2017

Marketing Team

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