The sky warriors have voted, according to Choice, and the winner is the Singapore Girl, with Qantas coming in last in overall preferences for international airlines.

Is this “real news”? Do consumer polls about airlines, or anything, really matter? Are they accurate?

On the last question the Choice poll has a degree of street cred. It was responded to by nearly 4,000 print or online subscribers.

Rigging it would cost a few hundred thousand dollars in individual subs, with no certainty of getting the “right” result anyhow.

And it would take more sophisticated planning than went into the effort to make shareholders with a “mental problem” hand over a Qantas worth $18 billion to private equity buyers for $11 billion.

This isn’t your Aussie Idol/Big Brother sort of exercise where the time honoured principles of vote early, vote often and make Telstra and Optus and everyone with a slice of the charge for lodging a txt vote rich at your expense.

So we can be fairly confident that Choice readers really did vote that Qantas s-cks when it comes to flying long distances.

It was beaten by Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines, Thai and Cathay Pacific in that order.

Qantas is “surprised by the result.” It pointed to the “prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards” in which it came second two years in a row. Oops! Qantas should also have checked the latest Skytrax ratings. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are on 5 stars, and Qantas on 4 stars, just like Virgin Blue.

However Skytrax ratings are about as secure in terms of one vote for one person as a Labor pre-selection for an inner city seat.

The domestic poll handed the top gong to REX, not Inspector Rex, but the tiny turbo-prop bush airline most city folk never know.

REX is not only the most profitable carrier in the country in terms of margins, but so emotionally touched by your patronage that the two pilots and flight attendant will personally thank you and anyone else on board for flying with them as you get off in towns that look like Dimboola.

Such a vote could not possibly be contrived. Choice is clearly chosen, a lot, by country readers.

After REX, the sky warriers’ choice was Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar in that order, making it a clean sweep of airline of last choice for a Qantas group carrier over any distance.

A predictable result. The last reliable sighting of a suit being forcibly face painted on a Virgin Blue jet was three years ago and it has since gone all “new world carrier” business person friendly, apart from subjecting them to Live Foxtel ‘News’ by satellite.

We are seeing an underlying shift in travel demographics here.

Virgin Blue is very hip for young executive types who tend to get sent on more flights these days because one the perks of senior management is to avoid the hell that comes from full flights, lounges that run out of seats and food, and protein surprises that Qantas hands out pre-wrapped in their own garbage bags.

And since Jetstar sets out to remind travellers that it is not a full service, indeed not even a fully reclining service offering, yet slugs the suits with high fares with no meals if they don’t qualify for a cheapie, coming last in such a poll is a near certainty.

Do the opinions of Choice subscribers really matter a damn?

That is harder to answer. The published details note that getting Qantas frequent flyer points is a major (but clearly not a winning) factor in choosing an airline.

This tells us that many of Choice’s subscribers aren’t really all that bright to start with.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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