Mark Dolliver: So, It’s Not Hell on Wings After All

Media coverage treats air travel as one of the great ordeals of modern life. For some frequent fliers, it probably is. A pair of new polls, though, find satisfaction with air travel is more the rule than the exception. In an Associated Press/Ipsos Public Affairs poll of adults who’ve taken at least one airline flight in the past 12 months, the vast majority voiced a positive view of air travel (see the chart). Findings were similar in a Gallup poll, where 72 percent of past-12-month fliers were “satisfied with the job the nation’s major airlines are doing.” One apparent moral: The horror-story anecdotes of some travelers don’t reflect the attitudes of the flying public en masse.

When the AP/Ipsos poll asked respondents to say what they dislike about flying, 31 percent cited the hassles of airport security, 17 percent pointed to delays and 15 percent mentioned cramped or crowded planes. Just 6 percent cited the cost of flying. In the Gallup poll, the chief complaint was about the comfort of airline seats, with just 47 percent satisfied on that score. By comparison, 65 percent said they’re satisfied with ticket prices, 69 percent with airlines’ on-time performance, 75 percent with the speed and reliability of airport baggage systems and 92 percent with the courtesy of flight attendants.