Americans believe flying is more frustrating than five years ago, according to a new Morning Consult survey released today by the U.S. Travel Association.

Travelers especially dread flying around the Christmas holiday, the time of year overwhelmingly cited as the worst for air travel. Because of such headaches, Americans avoided 32 million air trips last year, costing the U.S. economy more than $24 billion in spending.

“Air travel isn’t a privilege of the few—it’s an essential pillar of our economy and our American way of life, especially around the holidays when families gather,” said U.S. Travel Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Jonathan Grella. “With aviation infrastructure funding being debated in Washington, the survey results indicate that addressing these problems is more urgent than ever.” 

According to the Morning Consult survey, American adults believe that key aspects of the air travel experience have deteriorated in the past five years:

  • 60 percent say airline fees, such as fees for checked bags, flight changes, and seat assignments have gotten worse; 
  • 51 percent say the overall cost of flying has gotten worse; 
  • 47 percent say airport hassles, like long lines, crowded terminals, and moving from one part of the airport to another have gotten worse

The Good News?

Improving airports could immediately boost the U.S. economy. Two in five frequent business and leisure travelers would take at least three more trips per year if airport hassles could be reduced or eliminated.

What Can Be Done?

Solutions are in sight. Strong majorities of respondents stated that Congress should pursue policies to: modernize airport and air traffic control infrastructure (60 percent), give airports greater ability to boost air service options for American travelers (55 percent) and prioritize the needs of passengers (55 percent), among others.

Below are top solutions cited by respondents:

Congress Should Yes
Modernize airport and air traffic control infrastructure to make flying more efficient 60%
Prioritize the needs of passengers 55%
Give airports more flexibility to invest in programs that boost air service and increase options for travelers 55%
Regulate how airlines treat their passengers 54%
Preserve policies that encourage competition among airlines 53%
Prioritize expanding and improving airports to increase airline competition 46%


Said Grella: “These survey results send a loud, clear message to Washington: Congress can—and should—prioritize fixing our airport infrastructure. They should do it for the sake of travelers, and for the sake of the 15.3 million Americans whose jobs are supported by travel.” 

Survey findings can be found here.

Survey Methodology

Morning Consult, on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association, conducted a national online survey of 2,201 adults from October 10-12, 2017. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.

U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org for information and recovery-related data.