The Golden Age of Flight is associated with the 1950s, when flying was relatively new, seats were large, meals were lavish, and only the wealthy could afford to fly across the country or over the ocean. Although the Golden Age of Flight kicked off 70 years ago, the Golden Age of Cheap Flights is happening right now.
It’s never been cheaper to fly overseas as it is today. For example, in 1948, a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Rome cost $848. That’s nearly $9,000 in today’s dollars. And yet, right now, we regularly see flights from NYC to Rome available for less than $300 roundtrip.
So what does that mean for travelers? We’ve surveyed 2,000 Scott's Cheap Flights members—and dove deep into our own data—to look at how consumers are traveling now and how things may change in the coming year. In this, our first annual Report on the State of Cheap Flights, we’ll look at how consumers are spending on travel, how they choose flights, where they’re going, and how much they’re spending to get there.
More than half of respondents said they plan to take more trips in 2020 than they did in 2019. Only 11% said they would take fewer trips this year. For the majority of people, that means taking 2-3 international trips in 2020.
Said “I’ll take more trips in 2020”
Said “I’ll take the same amount of trips in 2020”
Said “I’ll take fewer trips in 2020”
Half of respondents said their trips will be about the same number of days as they were last year, while 38% expect to take longer trips this year. For nearly half (47%) of respondents, the average trip will be 7-10 days, while another third (34%) said they’ll take trips longer than 11 days.
More than half (52%) of respondents plan to spend more on travel in 2020 than they did in 2019. For two-thirds (64%), that still means spending less than $5,000 per year. Only 14% of people plan to spend less on travel this year than last year.
Said “I’ll spend more on trips in 2020”
Said “I’ll spend the same amount in 2020”
Said “I’ll spend less on trips in 2020”
While almost half (47%) of the people surveyed said they are concerned about flying’s effects on the environment, only a small amount plan on reducing their long-haul flights. Half (54%) said they are flying the same amount but making changes in other areas of their lives, and another quarter (23%) said they are taking the same amount of long-haul flights but taking fewer short-haul flights (and taking a train, car, bus, or ferry instead.)
Europe is a destination of interest for 80% of respondents, with Asia and Australia & New Zealand distant second and third choices.
Two-thirds of people (64%) say they chose a destination in 2019 because of a good flight price, while half (52%) also say personal recommendations influenced their choice.
Half of respondents (53%) say money is what keeps them from traveling more.
More than half the people surveyed (62%) said they expect to have the same amount of vacation time in 2020 as they did in 2019.
78% plan to use every single day. For more than 90% of respondents, that’s at least two weeks.
More than a third of respondents (37%) say travel is critical for their happiness, and another 45% say it’s highly important.
And, people would give up a lot of other things instead of travel:
Would give up pizza for a year
Would give up social media for a year
Would give up Netflix for a year
Would give up dating for a year
Parents see travel as critical for their children, too. Of the respondents who have children, 89% travel with their kids, and 67% say they’d pull their kids out of school for a trip. More than half (58%) say travel is a critical part of their child’s education
When they save money on flights, 73% of people reinvest that money into other things: traveling more, traveling longer, or splurging on other parts of their trip.
Price and affordability still reign with 43% of solo travelers saying cost is the most important factor when determining where to go. Only 16% said safety is their biggest concern.
And, while 55% would travel more with a partner, 45% actually prefer going solo.
While the average price fluctuated by region, in general we found more—and better—deals in 2019 than we did in 2018. And year over year, we’re seeing our lowest fares inch even lower.
This holds true when we look at some popular routes. The lowest prices we found on these sample routes in 2019 are $30 to $140 less than the lowest prices we found in 2018.
About a third of people (30%) say their biggest complaint about air travel is high prices. And while we may be in the golden age for prices, we’re not in the golden age of travel comfort. Nearly a third (29%) of people say their biggest annoyance is small seats and lack of legroom.
When basic economy is the lowest price, 80% book it.
And when it comes to booking directly with an airline or with an OTA, 65% say they book wherever is cheapest.
More than half of people will book two roundtrips to get to their final destination (such as NYC to Athens, Athens to Santorini) if it saves them $200 and 68% would travel to an airport up to two hours away in order to get a cheaper flight.
Enjoy the trip planning process
Travel with some sort of camera
Bring phone, laptop, tablet
Go carry-on only most of the time
Don't mind reclining
Strongly against reclining
Love window seat
Love middle seat
Prices for flights have continued to fall over the last few years—and we don’t expect that to change in 2020.
While people intend to spend more money on travel this year, they expect to go on more trips with that money. And when travelers save on flights, they use the money for more travel.
Europe is still the favored destination, and though Instagram plays a part in many travelers’ plans, most go where they can get a deal or to places recommended by friends and family.
For these travelers, a trip is more than a vacation, and saving on flights translates into more opportunities to see the world.
Since 2015, Scott's Cheap Flights has helped members around the world make their travel dreams come true. Our Flight Experts search thousands of flights every day to discover flight deals and Mistake Fares and email them to our 2+ million members, saving them $550 per ticket on average.