Southwest's consumer perception hurt by latest safety issue

Southwest Airlines' consumer perception took a hard hit following the fuselage incident and subsequent flight cancellations earlier this month, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

Southwest Airlines' consumer perception took a hard hit following the fuselage incident and subsequent flight cancelations earlier this month, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

The brand research service reported that Southwest's buzz score* dropped from 26 in early April to -19 in 10 days. It's quality score fell to 24.8 from 42, which was its peak at the end of January. Following the crisis, Southwest Airlines ramped up a "full court press" strategy.

The last time Southwest was hurt by a similar crisis was in March 2008, when the airline's inspection failures went public. At that time, its buzz score declined from 20 to -20 in three weeks, and its quality score was cut more than half.

*YouGov BrandIndex has a score range of 100 to -100, and subtracts negative feedback from positive. The tracker interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample.

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