Chris McGinnis points to a survey by the US Travel Association arguing that people avoid flying because of delays and cancellations, which they suggest are because of lack of government investment in airport infrastructure and air traffic control improvements.
They argue that 38 million domestic plane trips were avoided in 2013, for a total airfare loss of ~ $9.5 billion.
And piling on, just like advocates for sports stadiums, they argue that this means a broader loss for the overall economy of $35.7 billion through lost hotel bookings, rental cars, dining out, and recreation. Because anyone who doesn’t take a plane trip sits at home. In the dark. Without heating or air conditioning. And doesn’t eat. (Which would suggest they save, which might be a good thing, although the positive effects of a higher savings rate are ignored.)
If they’re avoiding plane travel they might be driving or taking the train, which would pick up the same additional economic activity, tradeoffs aside. The survey doesn’t address this. Or they might be video conferencing, which while a second best to in-person meetings has additional productivity benefits for time in the office and cost savings on airfare may get invested elsewhere or distributed as profits and.. spent.
There’s no question that if air travel were a quicker, more seamless experience at the same or lower price that would stimulate demand. Survey data is an unreliable measure of this though.
- If you ask people whether air travel is annoying, they are going to say yes.
- And if you then ask people whether their already expressed belief influences their behavior, they are going to say yes.
The US Travel Association release on the study complains about high taxes on aviation activities while pushing for more government spending on those activities.
Meanwhile the number two concern expressed in the survey is ancillary fees for baggage, seat assignments, and other things.
In other words, just like the US Travel Association, passengers want more for less. And a pony.
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