As air travel costs rise, we wondered: Is that prompting consumers to change travel plans? So we asked that question in this consumer study.
In the platform, we combined quantitative and qualitative questions in the study, and the platform neatly packaged the results in one dashboard.
On the quantitative side, we asked:
- How have you traveled recently, or are you planning to travel in any of these ways? (Anyone answering “plane” advanced in the survey.)
- How many times per year do you travel by plane?
On the qualitative side, we asked:
- With the increase in tickets prices, are you thinking of changing your traveling plans this year? Please explain.
- Would you change your preferred airline if other airlines offer cheaper plane tickets, and why? What airline do you usually use?
Here’s a quick highlight reel of reactions:
The quant results
The responses were somewhat evenly split on the volume of travel frequency. Three, four, and more than five trips per year each were true for over 20 percent of the respondents.
The qual results
Respondents recorded a quick asynchronous video message for the qual questions – selfie-style, directly from their phones.
The automatic sentiment analysis showed that 39 percent of all statements were on the neutral side, with 34 percent being positive and 27 percent being negative.
Unlike the quant questions – which are self-reported answers – this sentiment analysis pulls from what respondents said in their video responses.
The automatic theme explorer and Word Cloud gave me an idea of some of the most mentioned topics.
At times, I also use the Theme Builder and my knowledge of the subject to build and group themes for topics that I consider related.
I like to review the theme explorer first to get an idea of what trends I’m seeing. The Word Cloud is my next step. Then I want to skim through the automatic transcripts and each response. Here’s a summary of what respondents said.
- Some would change to another airline from their preferred one for cheaper flights.
- The increased cost adds up when traveling as a family or when taking several trips.
- Looking to driving for trips that previously would have been done via air travel.
- Some sigh at the “skyrocketing” prices but will continue traveling by plane.
- Others are trying to wait it out and not travel by plane.
- Some said they booked before prices started rising and will go on their trips.
- One traveler said she cut her twice-a-year trip to see family down to one because of the cost.
- Another traveler said she’s trying to use award miles to decrease travel costs.
Where to next?
There are undoubtedly different types of travelers that we heard from in the study:
- Leisure travelers
- Business fliers
- People who fly to and from work
“My travel is primarily to go home to visit from work,” said Ryan, 38, of Houston. “So I’m not changing my plans to do any traveling. And it still is cheaper to fly home in most instances than driving home, let alone being worth my time. Sometimes I might pay a little more for the ticket than gasoline, but there’s less mileage and wear and tear on my vehicle. And my house is almost six hours away from where I’m working right now.”
Many travelers said they would fly with the cheapest airline or even drive. But what amenities are these travelers willing to give up? Or how does this answer change for the different types of fliers?
Some mentioned amenities in our study.
“Jetblue is my preferred airline, and I don’t think I would change because I don’t want to lower the quality of in-flight service and reliability,” said Chris, 39, of Danvers. “I don’t mind paying for that. So I feel like they already were priced fairly, so it’s not an area I would compromise.”
Those questions would make a good starting point for deciding what follow-up research is needed to understand the current consumer mindset and decision-making.