New Studies Explore the Pains of Air Travel

Unless you fly with charter jet services or pay for one of the upper travel classes, then odds are you’re going to be putting up with a lot during your flight. But just how much would it take to send passengers scurrying away to another airline? A new study sought to find out.

Insight technology provider Qualtrics surveyed 520 airline passengers who flew in the past year about the usual pains that accompany travel — obnoxious passengers, lost luggage, hidden fees, etc. — and then asked them to rank their experiences on a scale ranging between benign and “deal breakers.”

The inaugural Airline Pain Index found that about one in five passengers reported experiences so bad that they switched airlines. Nearly half (48%) saw lost luggage as the biggest deal breaker, while 42% thought hidden fees and 34% found unfriendly crews to be some of the worst experiences an airline passenger could go through.

In addition to finding deal breakers, the study also found that female travelers were “twice as likely as men to report being unhappy when traveling and put a higher emphasis than men on clean facilities and transparent pricing.”

And as for those strangers you have to share a plane with, “Bad hygiene was far and away the top complaint, with 45% of respondents saying it is one of their top complaints, followed by someone kicking their seat (35%) and sitting next to someone who is drunk (35%).”

Interestingly, the study did not mention airline food as being a problem. However, a separate study recently investigated why airline meals can be so awful, and found that it may not be the airlines’ fault.

A new study by Cornell University published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology has suggested that cabin noise actually might affect the taste buds. In other words, food can taste much differently at 30,000 feet in the air than at sea level.

So at least the airlines aren’t to blame for that.

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