The 7th Battleground: Flight Disruptions

By David Griffiths & Abbie Holmes

VP Content, Head of Insight & Insight Consultant
3 minute read

Almost as soon as the first case emerged, we saw this area draw passenger focus for obvious reasons. As the weeks rolled into months, the number of passengers personally affected by these cancellations and delays continued to grow. We’ve seen some very positive reactions from airlines, as well as some slow cumbersome reactions that drew negatively charged sentiment.

The penultimate in our Battleground series, this week’s focus is an exploration of 5.3 million passenger conversations related to the Flight Disruptions, a topic that’s grown by 105% in the past 3 months. We’ll explore this topic through a few lenses, starting with cancellations, understanding negative drivers on booking and eventual rebooking.


As the pandemic raged on, there have been unavoidable cancellations in every region, impacting millions of passengers around the world. We’ve seen the area grow by 101% in recent weeks, with some 1.7 million referencing a terrible experience they’ve had. There is a portion of passengers who have had this process managed well by their airline; offsetting much of the negative sentiment we would expect to see. Making cancellations easier has been the most positively charged area, growing by 114% in importance to passengers. It has been difficult for airlines to cope with the influx of requests, leading to delayed responses from airlines. Enabling a traveller to resolve the issue themselves through an app or online - effectively and not just in theory - has never been more important to passengers.

Negative Factors Preventing / Delaying Booking

As previously talked about in our other Battleground blogs, some passengers will need a few more reassurances to get them back onboard in the near future. The fastest growing area, unsurprisingly is coming from passengers looking to understand Travel Bans and Restrictions. We’ve seen a 1,340% growth in recent weeks, suggesting demand is there, but most of these passengers are not getting sufficient answers to their questions, and don’t want to be hit unexpectedly by another restriction and have to go through the cancellation/refund process again. This is definitely impacting conversion rates. Passengers are expecting airlines to stay up to date on countries’ foreign and domestic policies and have this information available as part of the booking process, as opposed to something the customer has to investigate themselves.


For those that haven’t seen their income affected or who might have been given flight credits for postponed trips or vacations, the demand is coming back a lot quicker. There are a number of travellers actively looking to rebook flights for the future. We’ve seen this area grow by 20% in recent weeks, with customers from airlines who’ve made the process easier – normally online or app - seeing an average of 32% increase. The uncertainty around air travel has made it difficult for many to rebook the flights they want, with many also having to worry about being able to line them up with hotel and experience packages, but crucially, desire to travel is returning.

David Griffiths,
Head of Insight Fethr
VP Content Black Swan


Abbie Holmes,
Insight Consultant

Thank you for reading, and for more information or to explore any of the above in any further detail please get in touch with Patrick Prefontaine at patrick.prefontaine@blackswan.com or by using the contact form below.

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