Another summer, another round of warnings that air travelers should expect long lines and crowded flights. The forecast for this summer’s air travel is for a seemingly healthy 4 percent over last summer’s. Good, but a new survey of summer travel plans suggests that the growth isn’t nearly as robust as it might be.
Responses to a simple one-question survey completed earlier this month by Skift painted the following picture of summer travel plans, and non-plans:
- 41.9% plan to take no summer vacation
- 35.2% haven’t booked summer travel yet
- 22.9% have booked a summer trip
So, almost twice as many plan to stay at home as have already booked a summer trip. And those in the “haven’t yet booked” category could ultimately go either way, easily bumping the final stay-at-home numbers above 50 percent.
No doubt, the ambivalence toward summer travel in part reflects American’s aversion to vacations generally, as depicted in the findings of the most recent Project: Time Off study, which found that during 2015, 55 percent of Americans opted not to use 658 million of their vacation days.
But it’s also natural to wonder whether the recent string of high-visibility airline misdeeds has taken its toll on American’s appetite for travel as well. Images of a bloodied passenger being dragged off a plane and of the monster bunny exterminated in flight hardly signal friendly skies.
Either way, if I were an airline marketer, I’d be looking at the stay-at-home numbers as both a warning and an opportunity. On the positive side, there’s plenty of untapped travel potential out there, representing billions of dollars in new revenue and profits. But it’s untapped for a reason, and it will take more than cheap fares and clever ads to convert those stay-at-homes into airline customers.
Reader Reality Check
Where will you be flying this summer?
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.