Skift Take

When you connect the dots the fact that only 12% of passengers are willing to pay for extras but over 90% of them want to enjoy them calls airline’s up-selling strategies into question.

More than half of U.S. air travelers (58%) define themselves as ‘careful planners’ who feel better when they are in control throughout the journey, and only 12% would characterize themselves as ‘open-minded adventurers.’

These are the findings of SITA’s 2015 passenger survey of 1,411 U.S. travelers traveling through 46 international airports across the U.S. which represent 75% of U.S. passenger traffic. Respondents were asked to identify their ‘travel persona’ among a set list of four travel profiles.


Recent advancements in air travel technology, such as airline apps, travel process automation, and in-flight Wi-Fi, make the 18% who identified themselves as ‘Independent and hyper-connected’ happy.


Critically, for airlines fond of up-selling, only 12% of those surveyed identified themselves as ‘Pampered’ passengers—relaxed travellers who can afford to pay extras for services like lounge access and more comfortable seating, who fly more readily and take advantage of status-based perks from loyalty programs. Even they, “regularly experience a blend of mild annoyance with anticipation and joy,” according to SITA.

“U.S. passengers have a very positive experience when they use technology for travel tasks and are ahead of the rest of the world in rates of adoption for self-service booking and check-in,” says Paul Houghton, SITA President, Americas. “The results reveal opportunities for airlines and airports in the US to further improve customer satisfaction. Passengers want to use technology more—in particular their mobiles—to get up-to-date information on such things as flight status and baggage collection. Providing these updates should particularly appeal to the expectations of the careful planners and help to make the U.S. passenger even happier.”

SITA’s survey has listed U.S. travelers as more dissatisfied with their travel experience than international counterparts. The security clearance process makes 43% of U.S. passengers unhappy, and 29% of U.S. passengers are unhappy going through passport controls; higher than the global average of 36% and 25%, respectively.


The same study finds that passengers are most likely to have “strong positive emotions” when they can relax before boarding (95%) and onboard the aircraft (90%), making airline lounge improvements and cabin improvements sound investments in overall passenger satisfaction.


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Tags: passenger experience, sita

Photo credit: SITA's 2015 Passenger Survey identifies 4 U.S. air passenger traveller personas. SITA

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