Just how bad has travel become? According to a new Morning Consult survey conducted on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association, it’s so bad that Americans avoided 32 million airline trips during the past year, resulting in $24 billion in foregone spending.
A majority (51 percent) of survey respondents reported that air travel has become more of a hassle in the past five years; only 9 percent felt the travel experience had improved. Among the specific gripes cited were the following:
- Airline fees
- Overall cost of flying
- Airport hassles (long lines, crowded terminals, etc.)
- Government taxes on airline tickets
- Security screening
- Delays and cancellations
- Onboard comfort
While airline fees and the overall cost of flying were by far the most complained about, the survey chose to drill down into travelers’ dissatisfaction with the airport experience instead. Among the airport-related findings:
- 53% of frequent business travelers would have taken more trips if airport hassles were reduced or eliminated.
- 55% of frequent leisure travelers would have taken more trips if airport hassles were reduced or eliminated.
- 60% of respondents want Congress to “modernize airport and traffic control infrastructure to make flying more efficient.”
Apparently reluctant to implicate the airlines in the travel mess, the following received scant attention:
- 55% want Congress to “prioritize the needs of passengers.”
- 54% want Congress to regulate how airlines treat their passengers.
The survey seems to have been designed with certain preconceptions in mind, specifically that the root of the current dissatisfaction with travel is primarily a reflection of a degraded airport experience. In fact, the results suggest that airline fees and fares are the prime irritants.
Whether it’s airlines or airports or some combination of the two, the takeaway is that the travel experience is worsening rather than improving.
Reader Reality Check
What say you: Is travel getting better or worse?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.