Most of Us Will Fly This Year but Not Very Happily

According to the latest survey from TripAdvisor, more Americans plan to fly somewhere in the U.S. this year – 91% compared to just 86% in 2012. A similar jump is seen for those with aspirations to travel internationally, up from 56% to 67%. But during those flights, there will be complaints.

More Flying, but Plenty of Complaints

Chief among all complaints by the survey’s 2,000 respondents: uncomfortable seats. And more than a third of those surveyed said the number one thing airlines could do to improve the in-flight experience was improve the seats. How? By making them roomier. By providing more legroom. For free (or close to that).

Since the topic is complaints, who has the rudest flight attendants?

Thumbs Down on Legroom Fees

Paying for a better seat assignment? 44% said they’ve never done that. And those who will pay for more comfort, won’t pay much – only $25 on a domestic flight or $50 on a flight to Europe – and some airlines charge significantly more for their premium economy seating. Plus, on an increasing number of airlines, a regular uncomfortable seat in the preferred location will also cost you.

Dreaded Middle Seats? Some Actually Like Them

Here’s how seat preference broke down among survey respondents:

  • 58% prefer aisle seats
  • 42% prefer window seats
  • 4% prefer middle seats

Yes, we know the above figures add up to more than 100% – but we do not know why. A better question is, who are the four percent who prefer middle seats? And for heaven’s sake, why?!

Would you sit on these plane seats – even for free?

Flyers: We’ll Take Cheap Flights Over Comfort

Other fees were attacked, too, including checked-bag charges and fees for in-flight amenities such as meals and pillows, but in the end it all seems to come down to cost vs. comfort. A surprising 81% said they would be willing to go without any kind of in-flight entertainment for a significantly cheaper flight. We already know they’re willing to sit in an uncomfortable seat – if it’s free.


Published: February 26, 2013