Sunday, March 14, 2010

The WOW Factor

A few days back I was asked off the record why do Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways always place in the top ten or top five rankings of travel and airline surveys.

Well, the cynical answer is their PR departments wine and dine magazine editors and journalists to write good things about them. Maybe.... but I don't think so.

To start with these are heavily branded airlines associated with football clubs, F1 racing, Tennis tournaments and other high profile cultural and sport activities. Most importantly they have what I like to call the WOW Factor;

1. New aircraft with brand new leading edge technology interiors
2. IFE systems so loaded with movies, music and games that time flies by.
3. Good point to point routes both short and especially long range that minimises multi stops
with their associated hassles of airports and airport security.
4. Good food and good service usually with a smile, consistent and enjoyable. I am not saying
they do not make mistakes but on the whole they are good.
5. And last but not least a serious commitment from the top down towards passenger service.

Not many legacy airlines can claim all the above attributes, the European carriers are starting to fray at the edges and the US carriers are so obsessed with security in the cabin that flying with some feels like being in a classroom, so uptight they sometimes forget to smile. There are the exceptional fun airlines but then most are not all Legacy Airlines.


  1. In my opinion, a main reason for the success of these companies is that Etihad, Qatar, and Emirates are all government backed companies, and are well supported.
    Additionally, I think there is a cultural reason behind their success. Aviation and hospitality sectors are being intertwined, so travellers are treated more like hotel guests. For example, Etihad calls travellers 'guests' and treats them as such.

    Arabs are proud to be, and known for being hospitable. Hence, Emirates..Qatar Airways and Etihad, which are all Arab owned companies, I think reflect, and emphasize on thier culture of hospitality which appeals to many people. Which are related to the points 1,2,4,5 that you mentioned.

  2. Atab hospitality might be a factor. We have to remember the other 7 airlines are non Arab and most importantly that the staff of these 3 Arab airlines is mostly made of expatriates. It takes great work and effort to get 60 or 70 nationalities to work effectively together.



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