Travelers feeling the bite of fuel surcharges: survey
Friday, October 17, 2008：If the impact of recession wasn’t already evident in the aviation industry, a recent Synovate survey has established that 38% of Americans are seeking cheaper flight options, whilst 20% plan to travel less.
This adds to the 17% found to place their travel plans on hold for the meantime, whereas 16% are seeking alternative means of transport to air travel.
The survey considered over 10,000 people internationally, aiming to determine whether travel caused pleasure or pain, whether fuel has impacted travel choices and in-flight issues such as talkative neighbours and travelling children.
The convenience of air travel was lauded as its redeeming quality, with 56% of respondents choosing speed as the best quality of flying. This was evident in the US, where 84% of respondents elected this option.
"Air travel in the US is largely transactional,” said Sheri Lambert, Senior VP of Travel & Leisure research for Synovate. “It´s about getting where you are going with as little fuss as possible.”
“This is mainly because the scale of the American air system is enormous and so many people travel for work or business that it´s nearly as common as taking a bus.”
She continued, "The whole travel process has to be efficient or people start to reconsider whether the trip is even worth it - not a mindset the airlines want to encourage.”
Other issues raised in the survey included 41 percent of people showing sensitivity to the quality of their seat, appreciating seat swaps in certain situations and willing to pay extra for a seatr of choice.
"It´s one thing to not like your seat when you are on a short 45-minute flight. Most of us can deal with that,” explained Lambert. “But it´s entirely another thing when you are cramped and miserable travelling across the country or even farther.”
"In an ideal world, travellers would always get to select their first choice seat prior to departure. That is tough though, especially given current flight loads.”
"Indeed, some US carriers have experimented with seat surcharges for those who prefer certain placements, but the jury is still out on this one," Lambert said.
The forced intimacy of a flight cabin also caused some issues, with 34% of respondents agreeing that they would prefer to be seated next to someone of the same sex. However, this number was considerably lower in the US, with only 19% agreeing with that choice.