The coronavirus pandemic has brought global travel to a halt, but nearly three in four frequent flyers (71%) are ready to return to travel either immediately or within the next three to six months, according to a new survey from Collinsonâ€™s Priority Pass.
The global survey also reveals that unpredictable factors such as quarantines and border controls represent travellersâ€™ top concern about returning to air travel â€“ 74% identify this as a worry, and accordingly, half of travellers are willing to pay for a Covid-19 test to help ease travel restrictions.
Andy Besant, director of travel experiences at Collinson, said: â€śThe fact that most frequent travellers are prepared to return to air travel within the next half-year or even sooner is astounding. It means that if governments, airports and the travel industry can collectively take the right steps, we may see a near-normalisation of air travel far sooner than many predictions that set out recovery taking as long as until 2023.â€ť
This is the biggest brand-executed survey about global air traveller sentiment in the Covid-19 era. Over 22,000 frequent flyer members of the Priority Pass programme were surveyed about recent changes to their air travel behaviours and expectations, and what measures would restore their confidence and get them back to the skies.
The Priority Pass member data further reveals that the airport lounge is seen as a high-value service to those ready to fly.
Almost seven in 10 travellers are willing to pay for access to an airport lounge where social distancing is maintained and the majority of travellers (57%) plan to use their airport lounge access more than they did before the coronavirus outbreak. When asked about overall concerns for the journey, a full 74% have no concerns about the airport lounge. Looking at the retail side, 16% of frequent flyers plan to increase their pre-order of shopping and food services.
In terms of the overall airport experience, travellers want and expect a contactless journey.
Eighty per cent of travellers would like to see contactless payment options across the journey the next time they travel, and 58% want access to real-time heatwave maps of the airport to avoid crowded areas. Around one in three travellers also cited an interest in â€śclick & collectâ€ť services for shopping and food, travel apps with better functionality and airport information, and the use of digital queuing amongst airport retailers to limit in-store numbers.
Andy added: â€śThe perception of the airport lounge is changing in the Covid-19 era. Frequent flyers now see the lounge as not only a place for refreshments and amenities, but also a necessary part of the journey where they can feel safe and at-ease. Our survey results leave no doubt that frequent flyers want to make more use of lounge access.
“Contactless experiences are likewise key to boosting traveller confidence, hence our recent initiatives to spearhead the contactless airport journey via new airport lounge standards and safer, touch-free experiences in the airport lounge.â€ť
Todd Handcock, president Asia Pacific at Collinson, said: â€śCollinsonâ€™s global findings match up with the trends weâ€™re seeing in Asia-Pacific, where the survey found that two in three frequent flyers (66%) are ready to return to travel within the next six months… Robust, standardised testing procedures and high levels of trust between nations are key to recovery, with the survey also showing that nearly half of APAC travellers (44%) are willing to pay for a Covid-19 test at the airport in order to ease restrictions.”
He added: â€śAnother key finding for Asia Pacific is the fact that 52% of travellers expect to use their lounge access more than before the pandemic and 68% would be willing to pay for access to a lounge where guest numbers are controlled and social distancing is maintained. In addition, of all markets surveyed, APAC travellers are the most confident in the safety of the lounge with 78% citing no concerns around the airport lounge.â€ť