Schedule – 48 percent
Non-stop vs. connecting flight – 47 percent
Luggage charges and other fees – 36 percent
Frequent flier benefits – 21 percent
Extra legroom – 20 percent
Airports served (which area airport is selected) – 19 percent
Reputation of airline service – 15 percent
Business class availability – 6 percent
The survey also allowed readers to write in responses. Among the most popular answers:
• An all-inclusive airfare.
• To be treated like a customer.
• Flexibility to change without fees.
• More overhead bin space.
• Enough seat width.
Follow-up conversations with the survey respondents suggest they require more than a cheap ticket price.
“I look for a fair price,” says Jim Daniel, a business traveler from Modesto, Calif. Beyond that, he has a tick-list that includes service, space and schedule. And when an airline can’t deliver — which increasingly, it can’t — he decides to drive instead of fly.
Other air travelers say it’s not a matter of what they look for, but what they try to avoid. Specifically, extra fees, such as checking a first bag or to change a ticket.
“It’s ridiculous,” says one respondent, who is a frequent air traveler. “And I vote with my wallet. When I travel on my own dime, I use JetBlue and Southwest.”
Either way, passenger say they feel as if airlines can’t or won’t listen to them.
“Airlines do know what passengers want,” says one passenger. “They just don’t care. As long as they have people coming back in earnest, the shenanigans and schemes will continue.”