Flier favorites, airfare misconceptions and more


BOSTON, MA – Airfarewatchdog today announced the results of its annual air travel survey of more than 11,000 respondents. The majority of US travelers (68%) think domestic airlines are charging unfair ticket prices, despite the fact that airfares haven’t risen when adjusted for inflation.

“Adjusted for inflation, airfares are actually lower than they were twenty or even ten years ago, on average,” says Airfarewatchdog founder and President George Hobica. “And keep in mind that the product is safer than it’s ever been, which means that the value of airfare today—if people value safety—is higher than it’s ever been. Twenty years ago, you could fly coast-to-coast for $200 round-trip (RT). Today, you can still fly for $200 when there’s a sale. We’ve even seen NYC to LA for $158 RT this year.”

Competitive Pricing Continues to Drive Bookings

Price continues to be the single most important factor when booking a flight, with nearly 90% saying it’s very important. This is ahead of:

• Number of stops (72.2%)
• Cabin cleanliness (59.3%)
• Flight attendant politeness (56.6%)
• Onboard amenities (22.6%)

Leisure travel remains unchanged from 2014, with 78% saying they’ve taken between one and five RT leisure flights in the past year, only up from 76.4% two years ago.

Southwest Continues to Win—at Everything

Southwest is not only travelers’ favorite domestic airline, but it continues to beat all the others when it comes to value for the money, frequent flier programs, and flight attendant friendliness.

• Almost a third (31.9%) say Southwest is their favorite airline, ahead of Delta (19.3%), American (12.8%), and JetBlue (11.5%).

• Almost half (47.5%) say Southwest provides the best value for the money. The only other airline to break 10% was JetBlue (14.5%).

• Almost a third (29.6%) say Southwest has the best frequent flier program for using miles, although legacy carriers Delta (20.5%), American (17%), and United (14%) weren’t too far behind.

• Almost half (44.5%) say Southwest has the friendliest flight attendants. Delta came in second, with only 14.8% of the vote.

“It’s clear that Southwest is doing a great job at pleasing consumers,” says Hobica. “Perhaps its policies allowing checked bags and ticket changes without paying fees are ideas that other airlines should emulate.”

Travelers Can’t Agree on Loyalty Programs

Travelers are somewhat split when it comes to the importance of airline loyalty programs, with:

• 31.6% saying they’re either not important or slightly important

• 25% saying they’re moderately important

• 43.3% saying they’re either important or very important.

Regardless, the majority (68%) don’t have any elite status.

Sick, Overweight, and Body Odor Top Seatmate Fears

The biggest fears travelers have about a potential seatmate is that they’re sick (42.5%), overweight (18.4%), or have unpleasant body odor (18.2%).

Other Fun Facts

• Of the top thirty domestic airports, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (which also happens to be the busiest in the world) is travelers’ favorite to connect through (12.9%). Almost 10% (9.6%) say they don’t take connecting flights.

• Just shy of a quarter (23.1%) say they’ve never flown on an international airline.