Consumers dislike fees, but are willing to pay for choice: survey
Published: 13 Nov 2008: A survey has indicated that many consumers (52 percent) not only understand why airlines have embraced the 'a la carte' approach, but they also see value in the choices it brings to the flying experience.
The telephone survey of 2,000 random adults in the US, conducted to capture the sentiment around emerging airline fee-for-service models, also known as ´a la carte´ flying, shared that the majority of air travelers (85 percent) dislike paying fees for services they received free as little as a year ago.
"Over the past year we have really seen the emergence of an ´a la carte´ approach in air travel. So we wanted to hear from consumers because they ultimately determine what flies and what doesn´t in the marketplace," said Robert Buckman, director of Airline Distribution Strategies for Amadeus North America, which commissioned the survey.
Some of the findings were as follows: Of the air travelers surveyed, 53 percent agree with the statement "I prefer the cheapest base ticket fare available so I can then pick and pay for extra services I want"; One in 10 say they do not mind paying for optional amenities individually; Only 18 percent prefer an all-inclusive ticket with its higher price; Less than a third of respondents think airlines have gone too far with new fees.
On the flip side, there is strong sentiment that some items, especially checked bags, should remain free.
Half of respondents indicate that ticket fares should include first or second checked bags. Seventeen percent indicate blankets and pillows should be free, while 15 percent want free seat selection. But passengers will and have paid for ´a la carte´ for services. Fifty-seven percent have or would pay for food and beverages on a flight and 37 percent have or would pay extra for checked bags.
"´A la carte´ is reinventing the airline retail experience for the first time in decades and creating an opportunity for airlines to deliver real differentiation among their competition and value for consumers," said Buckman. "And consumers won´t feel nickel-and-dimed if they are getting something they value, whether it is choice, convenience or simplification."