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New Report Shines Lights on Air Travel Behaviors

Skyscanner has recently published its Horizons report on travel and booking trends going into 2024.

Emirates A380 Premium Economy cabin (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hemal Gosai)

Skyscanner has published its yearly Horizons report, which includes data such as traveler behavior while booking, preferences when traveling, booking window, trending destinations and more. The report uses data from over 18,000 consumers in 15 markets across different regions and has a particular focus on leisure travelers on vacation trips. The full report has been published publicly this week and can be found on Skyscanner

Here are a few interesting takeaways:

Overview 

Overall, the report includes four key areas: planning trends, destination trends, booking windows and trending destinations.  Horizons points out that leisure travelers will vacation more in 2024 across the studied regions. They are also planning on spending more on their travels, with the data varying across the countries. The report also gives insights on the factors that go into travelers’ decision-making on their destination and valuable booking window data that details the period leading up to booking trips, divided up by regions and types of flights. 

More Trips Across Markets 

The report paints a positive picture in line with what has happened in the market in the post-COVID years. Globally, the vast majority (81%) of travelers surveyed will either travel abroad more (42%) or the same in 2024. Leisure travel in 2023 has already exceeded the pre-pandemic 2019 level in many markets, and the recovery is significantly faster than business travel. 

Average number of international trips planned (Photo: Skyscanner)

For airlines and other industry players, this means they will have to prepare for the projected growth in travel by increasing capacity amid the supply chain issues and airport capacity records. Most airlines intentionally dumped capacity during the pandemic in response to the drop in demand, which was predicted to last for years by experts, and to ease their financial burden. The result is the massive shortage and inability to respond to the pumped-up demand during the summer peak season of 2023. With the growth in sight for 2024, it will be a test for major carriers to meet demand and ensure smooth operation.  

Cost of Flights is the Biggest Decision Factor 

Horizons suggests that the main deciding factor for travelers is the cost of flights, followed closely by the cost of hotels. Price-sensitive travelers will always take price as the main decision factor, and with leisure travel taking a greater share of the market, airlines will need to take steps to ensure that their pricing models remain competitive. 

Stabilized Booking Windows 

From a planning perspective, it is key for airlines to understand when travelers are booking their flights. This can impact the capacity that the airlines schedule as well as the marketing approach. Horizons suggests that, across the regions, long-haul travels are mostly booked weeks in advance, while short-haul and domestic are more volatile and are mostly booked between 7 and 29 days before. The exception is APEC travelers, with almost one-third of travelers booking within a month before traveling.

This can pose a challenge for APEC airlines, as advanced capacity planning is especially vital for long-haul flying. With almost a third of passengers booking less than 29 days ahead, it is difficult to predict the actual demand, and a higher level of versatility from an operational standpoint is required. 

Over the years, airlines are becoming increasingly forward-looking. Instead of relying on past booking data, airlines can use search data and other means to project demand and plan their networks. Skyscanner works with airlines as well as airports to paint a better picture of where the demand lies and creates a smarter network planning process. 

Anthony Bang An

Author

  • Anthony Bang An

    Anthony is an airline enthusiast who also loves traveling. He grew up around the world from St. Louis to Singapore and now lives in Amsterdam. He loves long-haul flying and finds peace in the sound of engine cruising. Fresh out of high school, he aspires to be working in the aviation industry and share his passion for the sky. 

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