60% of frequent flyers plan to fly within six months despite COVID threat

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About 60% of frequent flyers plan to return to the skies within the next six months according to a new survey by Xenophon Analytics in Washington, DC. The survey was conducted using the firm’s ‘Frequent Flyer’ database, which consists of more than 200,000 opt-in frequent flyers from across the US.

Before the pandemic, 73% of respondents took more than three trips a year and 38% flew six or more times; 84% of frequent flyers have not flown since the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic and health emergency in mid-March.

“Large numbers of air passengers are ready to begin flying again, which is good news for the airline industry,” said David Fuscus, president of Xenophon Strategies. “Over the past four months, global aviation has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic with fewer flyers, job cuts, grounded airplanes, and deferred or cancelled aircraft orders.”

Of the frequent flyers planning travel in the next six months, 63% are planning on personal travel while 10% will be traveling for business and 27% will be traveling for both. Of those traveling for pleasure, two thirds will be taking a holiday or vacation and one third will be attending an event such as graduations, weddings or anniversaries.

“It is clear from the data, that after months of quarantine and restricted movement, people have cabin fever and want a vacation,” continued Fuscus. “But business travel will be anemic, possibly because of continued work travel restrictions and the widespread use of video conferencing and other remote work technologies.”

However, the anticipated surge in flying comes with high expectations from passengers with virtually all respondents ranking social distancing, face masks for crews and passengers, availability of hand sanitizer, good aircraft disinfection procedures, and an increase in the use of touchless technology, such as facial recognition, as necessary to gain their confidence.

Xenophon Analytics’ 2020 Frequent Flyer Survey polled more than 3,000 frequent flyers who are self-described members of loyalty programmes of major US airlines, including Delta, United, Southwest, American, JetBlue, Alaska and others. The survey was conducted from 28 May through 18 June 2020.

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