Book Airfare on a Smartphone? Poll Shows Many Say 'Yes'

A recent study by market research firm Atmosphere indicates consumers are increasingly interested in booking flights by phone – not with an old-school telephonic conversation, but online via a smartphone, which allows users to access the web.

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Air travel analyst Rick Seaney saw this coming: “More people with more smartphones with more apps equals more bookings – no big surprise there.” He added, “The real question is, are the bookings they’ll make with smartphones a deal?”

This an important consideration since the study indicates smartphone users say they are more likely to want to use their device to arrange for same-day travel needs or for things that can be done just a few days in advance. Examples of this:

  • Book restaurants reservations: 49%
  • Buy movie, concert tickets: 49%
  • Check-in for boarding or get a boarding pass: 46%

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For other travel arrangements, the percentages drop:

  • Book a hotel stay: 37%
  • Research flights: 37%
  • Book a flight: 37%

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As Seaney points out, there are pros and cons to making last-minute travel arrangements and the biggest problem may be finding that elusive cheap flight: “Hotels have a better shot at discounting their ‘perishable’ rooms at the last minute without cannibalizing their earlier bookings,” said Seaney. “On the other hand, airlines traditionally charge a premium for last-minute bookings. If airlines suddenly began last-minute discounting on tickets normally sold to high-paying business travelers, it would up-end their entire business model.”

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For now, many shoppers prefer the ease of a bigger screen and keyboard for the heavy lifting involved in researching flights and making the purchase, but technology is constantly changing and no doubt smartphones will too if only because they’re so popular.

Smartphones Now the Norm

Smartphone  usage shot up this year and they are reportedly now the norm in the U.S. As of this spring, 46 percent of cell users said they had smartphones while 41 percent said they just had standard or feature phones.

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Published: July 19, 2012