A record 107.3 million Americans are expected to travel during the holiday season this year, according to AAA, which last week released its annual holiday travel forecast showing an increase of 25 percent in holiday travel -- the equivalent of 21.6 million travelers -- since 2005.
Although 6.4 million of those travelers are expected to travel by plane, the truth is: Most of them are doing so only begrudgingly, suggests a new survey published yesterday by the U.S. Travel Association. Conducted for the association by Morning Consult, it found that most Americans hate flying, and that the flying experience has gotten so bad in the United States that many people will avoid doing it if they can.
Case in point: It found that Americans avoided 32 million air trips in 2016, costing the U.S. economy more than $24 billion in potential spending.
• Sixty percent of Americans say airline fees, such as fees for checked bags, flight changes, and seat assignments, have gotten worse in the last five years.
• Fifty-one percent of Americans say the overall cost of flying has gotten worse in the last five years.
• Forty-seven percent of Americans say airport hassles, like long lines, crowded terminals, and moving from one part of the airport to another, have gotten worse in the last five years.
• Two in five frequent business and leisure travelers say they would take at least three more trips per year if airport hassles could be reduced or eliminated.
"Air travel isn't a privilege of the few -- it's an essential pillar of our economy and our American way of life, especially around the holidays when families gather," said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Jonathan Grella. "With aviation infrastructure funding being debated in Washington, the survey results indicate that addressing these problems is more urgent than ever."
On that note, travelers want Congress to act. Specifically, they said lawmakers should pursue policies to: modernize airport and air traffic control infrastructure (60 percent), give airports greater ability to boost air service options for American travelers (55 percent), prioritize the needs of passengers (55 percent), regulate how airlines treat their passengers (54 percent), preserve policies that encourage competition among airlines (53 percent), and prioritize expanding and improving airports to increase airline competition (46 percent).
"These survey results send a loud, clear message to Washington: Congress can -- and should -- prioritize fixing our airport infrastructure," Grella said. "They should do it for the sake of travelers, and for the sake of the 15.3 million Americans whose jobs are supported by travel."