Interest in premium travel options grows

Interest in premium travel options grows

Although the current state of the economy is a source of concern for people around the world, the results of a recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation study reveal that interest in luxury air travel appears to be on the rise.

These findings are based on the responses of more than 1,650 U.S., European and Asian-Pacific travelers who purchased first and business class tickets within the last year.

The results, which appear in the study titled Consumer Choice in Premium Air Travel, indicate that over the next 12 months, 42 percent of Asian-Pacific travelers plan to purchase luxury airfares.

According to Joe Bates, the GBTA Foundation's director of research, the increased interest in premium seats has been driven by business travelers.

"This study provides a valuable perspective on the profile of the premium traveler and offers insight into the role of corporate travel policy in facilitating effective premium travel," Bates added. "It is vital for both travel suppliers and travel managers to become better informed about the premium traveler, especially as these travelers have become increasingly important to business travel growth overall."

Additional study findings show that 40 percent of travelers in the Asia-Pacific region plan to fly just as much as they did last year over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 83 percent of European and 81 percent of American travelers will fly the same amount as last year or more in the year ahead.

The study found that these travelers' reasons for buying first and business class airfares were based on several factors. Chief among them was an airline's safety track record, as 84 percent of respondents reported that a carrier's reputation was most important when it came time to choose which company to buy tickets for.

For 67 percent of travelers, the availability of lie flat seats in an airline's premium cabins was crucial, while 51 percent value the presence of an exclusive pre-flight airport lounge. In-flight entertainment options were found to be the least important reason for purchasing first or business class fares.

Despite the lack of interest in quality in-flight entertainment, premium travelers do seek certain technological amenities. For example, 51 percent of respondents want to have Wi-Fi access, 48 percent feel comfortable having air conditioning power, while 45 percent value onboard audio/video capacity. 

By Mary D'Angelo

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