Home Airlines The Things That Make Travelers The Happiest When Flying

The Things That Make Travelers The Happiest When Flying

by SharonKurheg

Different people have different expectations of travel. For some, the cheaper, the better. Other flyers aren’t satisfied unless they have a lie flat bed and gourmet meals. Yet other peoples’ main priority is a seat with enough legroom. Yet despite our differences, there are a few things that most of all find particularly important. And TripIt, in their third annual Happy Travelers Report, we’re able to identify those things.

TripIt is, of course, the travel advisory and organization app that takes your airline, hotel or car reservation information and creates a master itinerary for where you’re staying, so you can access all your travel plans, anytime, on any device. We’re huge fans of the app and have written several pieces about it:

The results of this third annual Happy Travelers Report (here are links to the first and second annual reports) were developed by analyzing more than a million flight ratings, gathered from June 2918 to June 2019, that led their researchers to understand which factors most impacted the happiness of people who were flying.

And what was the primary common bond? It’s apparently all about meeting (if not exceeding) travelers’ expectations.

The Findings:


Not surprisingly, time was the most essential factor in travelers’ happiness.

  • Duration: short-haul flights (less than three hours) ranked high in traveler-reported satisfaction, averaging 4.34 out of 5 stars. But surprisingly, ultra-long-haul flights (12+ hours) ranked higher on the happiness survey than short-haul ones. As per TripIt, “Whether it is higher quality entertainment systems or better meals or just a happier crew, ultra-long-haul flying does come with some benefits compared to the shorter hops more commonly seen.”
  • Season: the time of year also has an effect on travelers’ happiness. That happiness level peaks in January, when start-of-the-year optimism is at its height and crowds are at their lowest. TripIt says that January travelers rate their flights 39 percent higher than June travelers (summer travelers have to deal with more crowds, which does not help with happiness levels at all).


TripIt compared and analyzed different responses to the following amenities:

  • cabin service
  • entertainment
  • food/beverage
  • seat comfort
  • Wi-Fi
  • Other

The researchers found that amenities like fast Wi-Fi and entertainment (both of which travelers want, as shown by data) isn’t nearly as important to airline passengers as good cabin service or comfortable seating. In fact, the report said that seat comfort is 6 times more important to fliers than Wi-Fi, while good cabin service is 2.7 times more important than quality food and beverage.

Ticket Types

Not surprisingly, first-class ranked the highest. Lie-flat seats, usually better food, etc. It’s a no brainer.

However, when it came to lower class tickets, travelers flying basic economy were happier with their flight (score of 4.35) than those flying regular economy (4.24). On top of that, reported happiness on discount carriers beat all other ticket types, with a score of 4.5 stars. It’s felt that those paying a lower amount have lower expectations, so it’s easier to meet or exceed them.


This is an interesting one. For domestic flights, TripIt found that passengers preferred alternate airports, rather than larger and hub airports. In fact, 6 of the top 10 arrival airport rankings (out of the 65 U..S airports analyzed) are alternate airports.

However, when travelers fly to an international airport, they’re happiest at big airports in big cities. DOH, TPE, NRT, AKL and HND are their top 5 international arrival airports by flight ratings.

TripIt’s Conclusion

“The preconceived expectations of flyers are as personal as the travel plans they make. And all of the touch-points along the way—from departure airport to in-flight service to the final destination—can make or break flyer happiness. We’ve learned that many Americans expect efficiency at their departure airport and grandeur upon arrival. Meanwhile, those travelers who booked a basic economy ticket or with discount carriers have had their expectations set—and they’re happy getting exactly what they’ve paid for (or more).”

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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