The FINANCIAL — TripAdvisor, the world’s one of the largest travel sites, on April 28 announced the results of its annual air travel survey of more than 2,700 respondents.
More U.S. travelers are expecting to fly this year, as 92 percent intend to take a domestic flight at least once in 2015, up slightly from 89 percent who said they flew domestically last year. International air travel is also expected to climb, with 67 percent planning flights abroad, compared to 60 percent who did so in 2014, according to TripAdvisor.
“This year, we’re seeing more interest in international flights as favorable exchange rates have piqued the interest of U.S. fliers in traveling abroad” says Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights. “More U.S. travelers are taking to the skies in 2015 and while there’s still unrest about seat space, fliers recognize recent improvements to in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi options and the online shopping experience.”
Air Travel Preferences and Pet Peeves
When asked what they enjoyed most about the air travel experience, travelers listed the excitement and adventure of jet-setting at the top of the list.
Top 5 things travelers like most about air travel:
1. Thrill of getting to a new destination – 67%
2. Sense of adventure – 43%
3. Looking out of the plane’s window during take-off / landing – 28%
4. Chance to take a break from work (e.g., email) during the flight – 20%
5. Chance to rest during the flight – 17%
When asked what they enjoyed least about the air travel experience, travelers identified discomfort aboard the flight along with extra airline fees as the top frustrations.
Top 5 things travelers like least about flying:
1. Uncomfortable seats / limited legroom – 77%
2. Added fees (e.g., baggage fees, seat selection fees, etc.) – 71%
3. Unpredictable flight delays / cancellations – 67%
4. Cost of airline airfare – 62%
5. Loud / crying children – 50%
Fliers Sound Off About Getting the Squeeze on Seats
82% of fliers are “strongly opposed” to airlines installing narrower seats in the economy class cabin
57% of fliers say they are more likely to pay for a better seat assignment now than they were five years ago
Of the 40% of travelers who have experienced slim-line seats, 65% say they’re less comfortable than existing economy seats, 16% say some slim-line seats are more comfortable than others and 14% can’t tell the difference
Given shrinking seats, it may be no surprise the biggest improvements travelers want is space. Here are the top three amenities travelers say would make the air travel experience better:
1. More legroom – 29%
2. More space between other passengers – 26%
3. More comfortable seats – 22%
Most Improved Aspects of Air Travel over the Past Five Years
When asked about the top air travel improvements over the past five years, travelers gave ease of comparison shopping and booking flights online as their top choices.
Top five biggest improvements in air travel:
1. Ease of booking online – 63%
2. Comparison shopping on flight search sites – 55%
3. Availability of in-flight Wi-Fi – 33%
4. Airline check-in process – 30%
5. Ability to find comprehensive fare, flight and price information on a single site – 29%
A closer look at how travelers shop for and book flights:
The top three factors for choosing a flight are lowest price (63%), direct vs. non-direct (62%) and departure and arrival time / desired time of day to travel (58%)
While the vast majority of fliers say they typically book flights on their laptop or PC (87%), 18% say they have booked a flight on a mobile device
90% of travelers say it’s important to use flight search sites for price comparison
69% of travelers book their domestic flights between 1-3 months before their departure, while 61% book their international trips 3 or more months out
59% of travelers check 2-3 sites when shopping for airfare
60% of fliers are loyal to a particular airline, with 70% of those that are noting it’s because of the frequent flier program