NEW YORK – More than half (55%) of recent flyers, those who have flown on a commercial airline in the past two years, think the process of air travel (booking tickets, packing, going to the airport, flying, etc.) is more stressful than going to work, according to a new study from The Points Guy. Meanwhile, just 17% say going to work is more stressful than air travel.
More than 2 in 5 (44% each) recent flyers find the air travel process to be more stressful than going to the dentist or spending the day with in-laws, and 55% say the same about spring cleaning. Over one-third (37%) say air travel is more stressful than filing their taxes, and 35% say that about the DMV.
In comparison, filing taxes (27%), going to the dentist (26%), and going to the DMV (24%) were most likely to be considered more stressful than air travel. Respondents were noticeably less likely to find spending the day with in-laws (15%), going to work (17%), and spring cleaning (19%) to be more stressful.
How much are travelers willing to pay on top of their ticket price to improve their flight experience? When thinking about a six-hour, $500 roundtrip basic economy flight, 63% of recent flyers would be willing to pay extra to avoid a layover/get a direct flight, more than other conveniences like more legroom/a more comfortable seat (60%) and skipping the security line (41%). On average, those willing to pay to avoid a layover/get a direct flight would pay an additional $88 to do so.
Air Travel Convenience
Willing to Pay
Average Additional Amount (among those willing to pay)
Avoid a layover / get a direct flight
More legroom / more comfortable seat
Avoid a delay
Skip security line
Avoid waiting for baggage
"More than half of recent flyers think air travel is more stressful than going to work - but getting on a plane shouldn't feel like an inconvenience,” said Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy. “Fortunately, there are a ton of tools travelers can use to improve the air travel experience. You might even have a credit card in your wallet that gets you early boarding or a better seat.”
To ease air travel stress, Lieberman recommends that travelers:
- Skip the security line by considering a credit card that comes with a statement credit to cover the $85 to $100 fee to apply for TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry.
- Always book the first flight out, when possible, if delays and layovers are the most stressful part of your trip, as these flights are more likely to get out on time.
- Choose the nonstop flight when given the choice between that and a connecting flight.
- Consider a cobranded credit card from your preferred airline that can provide access to early boarding or a better seat.
- Pack only a carry-on, or mail your suitcase to arrive when you do, so you can bypass the carousel and don’t have to worry about lost luggage.
- For those who haven’t flown in the past two years but have in the past, the cost is mostly to blame (39%). Another 34% have not traveled anywhere in the last two years where flying was an option, 15% think it’s too stressful, 13% believe it’s not a comfortable way to travel, 10% blame fear of flying and 4% think it takes too long. Another 17% stated some other reasons.
Those who have never flown commercially are more than twice as likely to cite fear of flying as the explanation (23%).