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Airline Ancillary Services: The Consumer View

May 26, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Airlines' efforts to strike gold with ancillary products have shaken up air distribution, creating a need for new shopping methods and backend technologies, said PhoCusWright research in a new analysis of consumer attitudes to buying ancillary services. But despite the resulting hullabaloo among airlines and intermediaries, one crucial stakeholder is often overlooked: the traveler, PhoCusWright said.

“While airlines are increasingly enthusiastic about their new revenue stream, U.S. air consumers are only lukewarm, according to a recent PhoCusWright report, "Heat from the Middle Seat: The U.S. Consumer Perspective on Air Travel."

“To date, the most commonly purchased ancillary product is checked baggage. More than half of fliers (58 percent) pay to check their bags, though many do so begrudgingly. One in three travelers have purchased advanced seat selection, while over a quarter bite on meals or snacks,” PhoCusWright said. Yet all other ancillary products studied have a much smaller audience. Roughly 15 percent of travelers purchase in-flight entertainment, and an even smaller share dish out for in-flight Internet access, extra legroom or priority boarding, PhoCusWright reported.

“When asked to gauge their interest in purchasing extra services, over one third of travelers indicated they have no interest in paying more than the ticket price. While half of travelers are "interested" in paying for necessary services like checked bags, the audience for any one of the optional services (e.g., services for comfort, flexibility or convenience) is smaller than two in 10.

The report studied air shopping and booking behavior among U.S. travelers, measures consumer sentiment toward airlines, and examines the factors impacting traveler loyalty. 

Key topics included:

• The role of intermediaries in the air shopping process

• Traveler interest in ancillary products

• Traveler attitudes towards airlines, and trends over time

• Attitudes and behaviors of airlines' most valuable customers, including business travelers and those with high annual travel spend

• Incidence of behavioral loyalty toward airlines, impact on booking channel, and loyalty drivers 

This report was a derivative of PhoCusWright's Consumer Travel Report Third Edition.



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By George Dooley | May 26, 2011
New research offers insights into consumer buying of airline ancilliary services.
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