Wherever we may travel, navigating layovers in unfamiliar international airports can be a little bit daunting – and sometimes, boring. For those who often travel, whether for business or pleasure, enduring the layover is a regular part of the travel experience. But for those who seldom step foot into an airport, the time in limbo may be more difficult to pass.
You may find yourself constantly watching the clock or even facing a sprint through the terminal to catch a connection, but what is certain is travellers have very different views on flight transfers. A new study from UAE property portal Bayut.com has found that less than two in ten travellers (16%) enjoy layovers and most would happily pay a premium to fly directly.
Its survey of almost 1,000 people who’ve had a layover between international flights in the past year provides some interesting data on the transfer experience. One of the stand out findings was that Americans would be willing to pay around a third more than Britons to avoid a stopover with respondents in the United States willing to pay an average USD115 for a non-stop flight, versus USD83 for those from the United Kingdom.
This insight into the travellers from the two countries is further supported by the ideal time travellers are willing to wait on a layover – In the US it is 1 hour 13 minutes versus 1 hour 27 minutes in the UK. The findings also highlight a generational divide with Baby Boomers seeing 1 hour 33 minutes as the ideal wait time, versus 1 hour 22 minutes for millennials.
A number of airlines have highlighted that flight reliability and delivering on-time performance is the most important factor in the customer experience. At the recent CAPA Airline Leader Summit, Kenny Jacobs, CMO at Ryanair said: “You could have chocolate fountains at the boarding gate or you could have Ed Sheeran live onboard. The most important thing to customers is reliability and that is about on-time performance.”
While, mainly focused at hub airports, flight transfers are now increasingly common at smaller airports thanks to technological advancements that can link flight itineraries. The Bayut.com survey showed that 28% of respondents missed a connecting flight, heavily influenced by the delayed arrival of their original flight. However, slow disembarkation, navigating a large airport, gate changes and different airline transfers were also an influence.
For corporate travellers especially, knowing that a one- or even two-stop schedule is required, they, where possible, very carefully select routings to connect via or avoid specific airports. When it comes to making connections, a little advanced planning and preparation can go a long way.
According to the Bayut.com survey participants, Tokyo’s Narita International Airport was the most popular for connecting passengers with 78% saying they mostly or greatly enjoyed their time between flights. South Korea’s Incheon International Airport came in second, with a 73% ranking. These were the only two airports to secure positive rankings from more than two out of three travellers.