Digital Booking Sites

The Air Travel Booking Habits of American Adults


Jul 07, 2014 2:30 pm

Skift Take

The booking habits of consumers give travel providers insights on the best time and place to market before major vacations and promote sales during vacation lulls.

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It’s no surprise that few travelers pick up a phone to book airfares today, but would you believe that millennials prefer legacy carriers more than their parents?

These are a few of the findings detailed in MMGY Global’s comprehensive 2014 Portrait of American Travelers.

Travelers like to think they have a trick or strategy for finding the best airfare, but in reality we are all searching for and reserving tickets in similar fashion.

Websites are overwhelmingly the most common search and booking platforms, based on interviews with 2,550 U.S. travelers.

Almost half, or 33 percent to 44 percent, of respondents use these tools while less than 10 percent contact the same companies by phone.

The most popular time to purchase flights is two to three months in advance.

Travelers booking a weekend getaway are more likely to purchase tickets within a month of departure than those booking a weeklong vacation. Almost a quarter of travelers booking a weeklong vacation purchase tickets three to six months in advance.

Average Booking Time Before Trip For Weeklong Vacation For Weekend Vacation
Less Than One Week 4% 5%
1 Week – 1 Month 15% 23%
2 – 3 Months 37% 34%
3 – 6 Months 21% 12%
More than 6 Months 9% 4%
No Need 14% 22%

Interestingly, the report also noted a slight decline in demand for low-cost carriers with the percentage of respondents that prefer low-cost over legacy carriers dropping from 47 percent in 2013 to 39 percent in 2014.

This could be caused a blurring of business models, which makes it difficult for consumers to differentiate between two kinds of carriers.

Millennials, who are actively seeking value, are slightly more likely to prefer a full-service carrier (40%) over a low-cost carrier (38%). Travelers aged 50 and older were more likely to prefer a low-cost carrier (40%) over a full-service airline (35%).

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