A new survey by Deloitte shows that travelers are most concerned with getting a good deal, flying safely, and arriving on time when choosing an airline, a position that seems to justify many airlines' decisions to limit amenities and reduce fares.
Of 4,000 travelers asked to rank various attributes based on their importance when choosing an airline, 49 percent ranked "value for money" as "very important."
"Service" and "staff attitude" were ranked by nearly 40 percent of respondents as very important. But amenities and services like access to executive lounge and VIP privileges, free meals and parking, and in-flight technology received such high marks from fewer than 20 percent of travelers.
The Deloitte survey also revealed a shift away from business and first class travel on domestic flights: 64 percent of respondents fly economy even when traveling for business; 79 percent fly economy for leisure. The message is the same: Traveling cheap is preferable to traveling luxuriously.
This preference for value is good news for low-cost air carriers like Spirit Airlines, which have added fees for services long offered as part of the ticket price, like meals and checking bags.
Craig LaRosa, a principal at innovation and design consultancy Continuum, has argued that adding fees is not a sustainable growth model, and that passengers may eventually be driven away by extra costs that make a low fare more expensive than they expected.
But as the airline industry's profit margins are squeezed by high fuel prices, airlines will likely continue to reduce their own costs as much as possible, while offering low fares. For now, travelers seem to be okay with the tradeoff.
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