by Mark Albert
Price is king.
That’s what the vast majority of travelers surveyed by Reuters said when asked what was more important: airfare price, flyer perks, or airline reputation.
More than four in five Americans—83%—said ticket prices were “among their chief considerations” when buying personal travel, despite airlines’ attempts to woo flyers to spend more with ancillary fees and add-ons.
Travelers’ frugalness extends even to those dreaded middle seats.
Sixty percent said they would not pay more to avoid those seats.
And 52% percent said they would not pay extra to fly on the airline they preferred most.
“The results underscore the challenge for airlines to boost revenue with pricey extras like faster boarding and seats with extra leg room when customers in the backs of their planes are price-conscious and brand-agnostic,” Reuters wrote.
Reputation Doesn’t Outweigh Price
The Big Three American airlines—United, American, and Delta—have all begun selling Basic Economy fares with stripped down amenities for a cheaper price.
Such tickets can save passengers $20-$40 compared to the next-lowest fare, but generally don’t come with assigned seats, full frequent flyer miles, elite benefits, overhead bin space, early boarding, or other amenities that are standard for fellow passengers.
Travelers’ intense focus on price can also insulate airlines somewhat from viral videos or public relations debacles that spark an instant social media backlash, the poll found.
“If they’re competing for the infrequent traveler, price is the number one issue. And that is why airlines have decided to match the prices of the lowest fare airlines via these basic economies,” Robert Mann, an analyst at RW Mann and Co., told Reuters.