Passengers with a fear of flying are willing to pay “hundreds of dollars more” for what they perceive to be a safer flight, a new study has found.
Israeli researchers questioned hundreds of students and found that those who were afraid to fly would pay more to travel non-stop, during the day and with a home carrier.
Academics from three universities offered students alternative flight itineraries from Israel to London and Israel to New York.
They were given a choice of carrier (EL AL, Delta, Israir, Thomson and British Airways; a non-stop or connecting flight; a day or night-time departure; and price.
The study found that those with a fear of flying would rather fly with EL AL, rather than a foreign carrier, despite the increased cost.
They were also willing to pay more for a day-time departure as well as for a direct flight.
The difference in airfares people were willing to pay ranged from tens of dollars, for flights to London, to hundreds of dollars, for flights to New York, the study found.
Report author, Dr Anat Tchetchik, of the Ben-Gurion University, said: “Due to media exposure of flight accidents, fear of flying is on the rise, even though statistics show that air travel is the safest means of travel.
“How the public makes its choices and how fear of flying affects willingness to pay for alternative flight options is an issue of immense concern for public agencies and the industry.
“Respondents suffering very high levels of fear of flying were willing to pay $558 more to fly EL AL rather than Delta to New York.”
Report author, Dr Anat Tchetchik, of the Ben-Gurion University
The study notes that 92% of fatal accidents occur during take-off or landing, so a direct flight might make more sense to those with a fear of flying.
Preferring scheduled carriers over charters or low-cost carriers, however, is likely to be based on “perceived risk” since no official data supports the claim that scheduled carriers are safer, the academics write.
The report adds: “The preference for home carriers might be related to a safer image among passengers from the same nationality, but we believe that its major advantage is the better help these carriers can provide to passengers suffering from anxiety.
“Passengers with fear of flying can get more help from a crew from their own country because of better communication. The reduction in barriers such as language and social and cultural norms can be helpful in times of anxiety.”
The Impact of Fear of Flying on Travellers’ Flight Choice has now been published in the Journal of Travel Research.
Written by @SteveThompsonAM