Europeans spend longer searching for flights than they do experiencing them

Average search time longer than a London to Morocco flight, highlighting complexities of flight choice available to travellers today

Today’s travellers spend an average of 3.5 hours finding the perfect flight – often longer than the flight itself – according to a consumer poll from global travel technology company, Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR).  The results highlight the incredible array of flight options available to travellers today, and the potential dilemma of easily finding the right fare at the right price.   As the colder season approaches, more than 43% of Western Europeans are expected to take a continental city break or escape to places like the Canary Islands for some winter sun.  However, these travellers are spending an average of 3.5 hours to find their perfect flight, which can often exceed the duration of the flight travellers are actually booking.  Of those planning a Christmas shopping trip across the Pond, almost one in ten will spend more than seven hours searching for their flight – almost as long as the journey from London to New York.   “Holidays are meant to be an escape, but, before they get to their destinations, people are spending hours finding the flight that best suits their needs,” said Roshan Mendis, senior vice president EMEA at Sabre.  “This is compounded by airlines increasingly unbundling their fares and selling a wider range of extras.  It’s a real paradox – on one had the choice is fantastic for passengers, but on the other, it makes flight search and comparison tedious and complex – with some people visiting 38 websites before making a booking*.   “Advancements in data insights can help airlines cut through the clutter by offering travellers very specific and bespoke options based on their individual needs.  This level of personalisation is the holy grail for the travel industry, and Sabre is heavily invested in helping to make it a reality.”   Sharing data   The study also found that, after banks, airlines were the businesses people were most willing to share information with in return for a more personalised experience – more so than sectors such as online retailing, music, TV and fashion.   “The future of travel revolves around how well airlines and other travel suppliers can get to know and communicate with their travellers,” continued Mendis.  “Our research shows a willingness from travellers for airlines to use data to improve the flight experience.  This is great news, but today we’re only scratching the surface.”   Earlier this month, Sabre’s CEO discussed its commitment to develop New Distribution Capability (NDC) technology to enable airlines and travel agencies to offer more tailored products and services to meet traveller needs.  A key component of the technology is creating a view of each traveller that can help airlines and travel agencies better understand their customers and deliver custom offers that improve the travel experience.   Travellers will spend more if airlines meet expectations   A 2016 Sabre study found travellers are also willing to spend an average of £62 on additional services – such as upgrades, food and drink and priority boarding – to improve their journeys.   But despite the demand for ancillary services, airlines currently pocket just £10 ($16)** per passenger on extras – and Sabre’s current study suggests that this discrepancy could be linked to airlines not meeting passengers’ expectations.  Almost one in five consumers expect airlines to offer them completely unique travel packages.  And almost one in four also expect airlines to recommend entire flight experiences tailored towards all of their individual preferences.   Sabre surveyed 2,200 consumers from Western Europe (UK, Germany, Spain and Italy) to find out how they felt about their pre-travel experiences.  The research found that 25-34-year-olds spent the longest amount of time finding the right flights – 4 hours 9 minutes, longer than most inter-European flights – while over 55s spent the least amount of time at just 3 hours 45 minutes.  Of the four nations, Italian travellers spent the most time finding their perfect flights (4 hours 8 minutes), while Spanish travellers took just 2 hours 47 minutes.  Italian women aged 25-34 took the most time of all groups at almost 6 hours – almost as long as a flight from Milan to Dubai.     Notes to editors   References *Expedia, 2015 **CarTrawler, The CarTrawler Yearbook of Ancillary Revenue   About Sabre Sabre® Corporation is a leading technology provider to the global travel and tourism industry. Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than $120 billion of estimated travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre operates offices in approximately 160 countries around the world.   Sabre media contacts:   Jess Matthias