Top 10 international premium cabin travel trends in 2017

A recent International Traveler Survey completed by 1,320 U.S.-based international premium cabin travelers revealed key premium cabin travel trends and how political, economic and regulatory events impact premium class travelers today. Here are 10 key insights from the survey:

Most business class travelers take multiple international trips per year

Of the respondents, most take multiple international trips per year and commonly book paid business class (45% i.e. no use of miles) or paid economy class and request an upgrade (49%). Of the survey responses, 18% said they take 1 international trip per year, 55% take 2-4 international trips per year, and 27% take 5 or more international flights each year.

Europe is the most common international destination

Nearly 60% of U.S. travelers surveyed said they traveled most frequently to Europe. The second most popular continental destination was Asia (16%), followed by South America (11%), North America (10%), Africa (2%) and Australia (1.5%).

Many travelers rely on upgrades

Although many respondents book paid business class flights (45%), more international travelers book paid economy and request an upgrade (49%). A small number of respondents (5%) indicated they would cancel their trip rather than overpay or fly coach.

Expected travel plans remain steady

Most respondents (55%) are traveling as expected in 2017 and 70% report their travel plans have not changed since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Business class fares are increasing

Most international travelers report seeing the same or higher business fares compared with last year. International travelers surveyed said that business fares are about the same as last year (45%), somewhat higher than last year (23.66%), or more expensive than last year (24%). Compared to flights originating in other countries, respondents said that flights that originate from the U.S. are the same (29%) or more expensive (57%) than ones that originate abroad in Asia or Europe.

Terrorism is not a concern

Despite increased reports of terrorism in developed nations, 80% of respondents say that terrorism concerns have not changed their travel plans this year.

A strong U.S. dollar helps most travelers abroad

62% of American business class travelers say that a strong U.S. dollar benefits them when traveling internationally, while 27% say it has no impact on them when they travel abroad.

Travelers are divided about airline regulations

U.S.-based business class travelers are largely split on whether U.S. airline regulations should be relaxed or tightened. Travelers were nearly split on whether they thought U.S. airlines are burdened by excessive regulations (47% said yes; 53% said no), as well as deciding whether current regulations should be relaxed (43% said yes; 57% said no). Respondents were also split on how they thought the Trump administration’s plans to reduce airline regulations would impact travelers, with 41% of respondents saying fewer airline regulations would benefit travelers, 27% saying it would have no impact on travelers, and 32% saying it would hurt travelers. 80% also reported that they do not think excessive government regulations contributed to the United Airlines debacle where a passenger was dragged out of his seat and off a plane.

Onboard altercations do not stop travelers from flying certain airlines

Despite recent the rise in videos altercations between airline staff and passengers going viral, business class passengers say these altercations largely do not impact their decision to fly a particular airline. Nearly 75% of respondents said that the viral video of an American Airlines flight attendant’s altercation with a passenger will not keep them from flying the airline.

Premium class flyers feel less subject to mistreatment

The majority of premium class flyers (71%) say they’re less likely to be exposed to on-board abuse by flying business class. In comparison, 28% of respondents feel that one’s booking class has no impact on the service or mistreatment flyers may be exposed to.

Lars Condor is the Managing Director of Passport Premiere.

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