This year, Australians have travelled in droves, with domestic travel in particular increasing to 89 per cent of pre-COVID levels. The promising bounceback, however, has been met worker shortages, leading to flight delays and cancellations, luggage disruptions, and strikes, including a planned strike from airport fire and rescue workers during the Christmas-New Year break. In fact, as at October 2022, on time arrivals and departures across Australia’s airlines (Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Rex Airlines) remains well below the standard, at 69.3 per cent and 68.5 per cent, respectively – compared with 88 per cent and 88.4 per cent in the same month last year.
As a result of this complex and disruptive travel environment, a new survey has found that more than half (58 per cent) of Australians will adjust their travel plans next year to adapt. The finding was derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1010 Australians, of which 621 had travelled domestically or overseas since November 2021, commissioned by leading finance platform Money.com.au.
Survey respondents were asked to reveal the kinds of travel disruptions or challenges they encountered this year, and were presented with a list of seven to choose from. Nearly half (48 per cent) encountered at least one disruption. Delays with flights or other transport topped the list, with 29 per cent of respondents having encountered delays. Sixteen (16) had also experienced cancelled flights or other transport cancellations. A smaller proportion (9 per cent) had backed out of a trip due to high prices, 7 per cent had contended with lost or delayed luggage, and an equal 6 per cent were blindsided by unexpected fees or fell ill while travelling.
A higher proportion of young travellers had their travel disrupted this year, possibly as a result of choosing cheaper airlines and other travel services: 58 per cent of under-30s experienced at least one type of disruption, followed by 55 per cent of 31-50-year-olds and compared with 34 per cent of over-50s.
Licensed financial adviser and Money.com.au spokesperson Helen Baker says: “The survey results show that delays and cancellations have been the major travel disruption this year. Younger travellers in particular have faced such challenges, with a third (33 per cent) of under-30s admitting they’ve had to contend with flight and transport delays, compared with a quarter (25 per cent) of over-50s. As airline capacity returns, we are likely to see continued delays and cancellations, along with inflated prices, causing many travellers to rethink their travel plans entirely or make changes to avoid high costs.”
This shift is evident in the Money.com.au survey, which also asked respondents how they will adapt to the new, disruptive travel environment. Respondents could select more than one action from a list of six, with more than half (58 per cent) selecting at least one. Specifically, 22 per cent said they will travel outside of peak periods to minimise disruptions, while 12 per cent will choose a drive holiday, rather than flying.
Other actions respondents chose included taking shorter holidays (chosen by 8 per cent), staying in lower-star, cheaper accommodation (7 per cent), and flying with less reputable airlines or travelling to lesser-known, or cheaper, destinations (an equal 4 per cent).
More older respondents are choosing to forego flights entirely, opting for drive holidays instead: 19 per cent of over-50s selected this change to their travel plans, compared with just 5 per cent of under-30s.
Helen says: “Travel is a personal activity and it’s important for individuals, when reassessing their travel, to strategically make changes based on their values. For instance, some travellers value a luxury holiday but will opt for a shorter trip to save on costs, while others will reduce costs by switching a flight for a local holiday.
“The survey revealed that a higher proportion of older Australians are choosing to take drive holidays to avoid disruption and save money, however another interesting activity they could consider are cruises. This industry is back in full swing and there more people are choosing to go on cruises and plan future ones. They are also often good value for money – advantageous for travellers working with tighter travel budgets for 2023.”
Helen adds: “With disruptions expected at airports this Christmas and infection risks growing, it is important for individuals to develop a risk mitigation plan for each trip. It is also important to have comprehensive travel insurance in place, even for short, local trips, not only to protect one’s health but also luggage and belongings.”