Citing High Cost of Airfare, Study Shows Americans Prefer Traveling by Car

Jun 24, 2018

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As we kick off a summer with a record-breaking number of travelers headed for the airport, knowing what people prefer when it comes to transportation and travel accommodations — both in the air and on the road — is key for businesses and consumers alike. A June 2018 survey conducted by technology and media company Morning Consult sought to find answers around the way Americans feel about travel, and the results are both interesting and surprising.

A survey of 2,202 participants found that the primary priority for US travelers is that they want their vacations to be affordable and relaxing. When it comes to air travel, they believe the airline industry has made little improvements in terms of cost, comfort and customer service. People are most concerned with the cost of tickets, checking luggage for free and comfort/legroom, and the numbers show 48% of the participants feel like airline costs have gotten worse in the past few years.

Similar to our TPG ranking of the 2018 best and worst airlines, Southwest Airlines was ranked as the most favorable American airline, with American Airlines, United and Delta close behind. While United was found to be favorable by 43% of people, another 23% found the airline unfavorable — the highest percentage in the survey. Surprisingly, JetBlue came in 5th in terms of favorability, with only 32% of those studied reporting a favorable opinion of the company.

But, despite aviation travel seeing the highest growth margin across all modes of transportation with an estimated 3.13 million travelers making their way to the airport this year, this study found that Americans prefer to travel by car. Based on factors such as fun, comfort and cost, cars took the lead over airplanes, buses and trains — even though gasoline prices continue to rise.

Interestingly enough, the places where the majority of participants want to travel to require a plane ride. More than half of participants are very interested in traveling to Hawaii, but both millennials and Gen-Z would rather take international trips than domestic.

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