U.S. Travelers Would Pay More to Improve Air Travel Experience, Survey Finds

Six out of 10 U.S. travelers would pay user fees dedicated to improving air-travel efficiency and choice -- up to $4 per ticket -- according to a survey of 1,015 travelers. The U.S. Travel Association, which commissioned the survey, added that seven out of 10 travelers feel their current air-travel options are inadequate. "Air passengers aren't thrilled about ancillary fees, which disappear into the airlines' pockets, or federal taxes, which disappear into Washington's pockets," noted U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "But if you show them a local user fee that is tightly structured to invest in our outdated and overburdened infrastructure, they understand the difference and strongly support it." The Passenger Facility Charge, which is paid only by those who use specific airports, was developed for these infrastructure improvements, added Dow. "The trouble is, it hasn't been indexed for inflation in a decade and a half, while our air-travel infrastructure falls further behind the rest of the world. It's time for airlines, cities, Washington politicians and the traveling public to recognize that the PFC is the answer to a host of air-travel problems, and summon the will to update it for the 21st century."

Survey respondents point to decreased competition in the U.S. as a problem; 72.5 percent said that having fewer airlines to choose from does not reasonably serve the needs of the people. Nearly 70 percent (69.4) think the U.S. government should not block foreign airlines from offering more flights, and that instead the government should take steps to aid the major U.S. carriers improve customer service, lower airfares and become more competitive. Four airlines now carry 85 percent of traveler traffic in the U.S., according to U.S. Travel. As for current satisfaction levels, 62 percent of survey respondents are either somewhat frustrated or very frustrated with air travel in general.