Air Traveler Frustration Keeping Them on the Ground: Survey

June 2, 2008 ( - Air travelers are apparently not only mad as hell, they're starting to do something about it.

The Travel Industry Association (TIA) last week released a  survey that claims that “deep frustration” among air travelers caused them to avoid an estimated 41 million trips over the past 12 months – at a cost of more than $26 billion to the U.S. economy.   The survey, conducted by the polling firms of Peter D. Hart Research Associates and The Winston Group, found that 48% of frequent air travelers (those who make five or more trips per year) are dissatisfied.

More than 60% of those polled said they believed that the air travel system is deteriorating, and nearly half said that the air travel system is not likely to improve in the near future.

Process Problems  

However, according to the TIA, travelers are most irritated about the air travel process, not the airlines. The TIA, which describes itself as “the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the $740 billion travel industry,” said that the issues the federal government can address are travelers’ top concerns: delays, cancellations and inefficient security screening.

“A majority of travelers thought that air travel safety was getting better and a majority thought the security was improving as well,” said David Winston, President of the Winston Group. “But there are clear frustrations around efficiency and reliability, which are contributing to travelers avoiding air travel.”

Roger Dow, President and CEO of TIA, noted that the 41 million avoided trips during the last 12 months rippled outward across the entire travel community costing airlines more than $9 billion in revenue; hotels nearly $6 billion and restaurants more than $3 billion. In addition, federal, state and local governments lost more than $4 billion in tax revenue because of reduced spending by travelers, according to the TIA.

The survey of 1,003 air travelers (adults who had taken at least one roundtrip by air in the last 12 months) was conducted between May 6 and May 13, 2008 and the statistical margin of sampling error is ± 3.2 percentage points.