Skift Take

As more airlines cut regional services or route flights through hubs, travelers' first and third most wished for items will continue to go unmet.

While in-flight Internet and onboard power outlets near your footies are important to leisure travelers on flights, their top priorities are a convenient schedule, freebie bag-checkins, and nonstop routes.

Those are findings culled from an Atmosphere Research Group online survey of 2,530 leisure travelers conducted during the second quarter.

Asked to gauge the importance of various services when selecting a flight, respondents indicated a convenient flight schedule (86%), a free checked bag (80%), and a nonstop flight (74%) were the chief wanna-haves.

In-flight Wi-Fi (36%) came in a tie for seventh along with in-seat power outlets.

Timing is everything in life and flights

Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, believes that the desire for nonstop flights was especially significant.

And, that’s not particularly surprising because since airlines began cutting their capacity and routes over the last couple of years, it has become increasingly more difficult to get from here to there in one straight shot.

Harteveldt believes that airlines will increasingly offer differentiated fares based on number of stops and connections.

And, this is where personalization — if it ever really kicks into gear — could come in.

Data diving

Harteveldt says airlines should use passenger data to determine whether the traveler is more price- or convenience-focused.

Airlines, he says, can message travelers: “‘This connection will save you $X over a nonstop,’ or for a convenience-focused traveler, ‘Our nonstop will save you X amount of time versus a connecting flight.'”

And, although free checked bags came in second on leisure travelers’ wish list in the survey, Harteveldt argues that the genie is out of the proverbial bottle.

“Airlines are not going back to the free checked bag model,” Harteveldt says, arguing, though, that bags may get a free ride if you attain various loyalty status tiers, purchase with an airline credit card, or opt for certain fares.

However, if airlines one day get re-regulated, then all bets are off.

Standby, lounges and changes

Asked about their purchase patterns on flights to destinations in North America over the previous year, survey participants indicated that the most frequently paid-for features on most trips were checked bags (15%), pre-reserved seats (14), onboard snacks and meals (13%), and in-flight entertainment such as movies and audio (13%).

And, the respondents ranked travel insurance (43%) as the least-purchased add-on during their flights within North America over the previous year.

And, that’s not great news for insurance salespeople.


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Tags: in-flight, leisure travelers, luggage

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