Top Travel Frustrations: Cost of Gas and Airline/Cruise/Train Tickets

October 8, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Retail & E-Commerce | Travel & Hospitality | Women | Youth & Gen X

Americans’ travel frustrations are both widespread and acute, and, in some cases, growing, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll conducted on behalf of Access America. Topping the list of frustrations is “the cost of gas,” cited by 86% of those surveyed, reports Retailer Daily.

Next on the list are “the cost of airline, cruise or train tickets” (55%), “airline/airport service” (49%) and “the cost of lodging and/or other attractions” (49%).

Significant numbers of Americans also report feeling frustrated about “illness or injury” that causes a cancelation (37%), “homeland security/safety” (37%), “labor actions” (33%), “the weather” (28%), “service by other travel suppliers” (27%) and “difficulty booking” the trip (21%).

Frustration Index

By creating an “index of frustration” among those who have traveled in the last three months, Ipsos and Access America have identified the aggregate level of frustration that exists among American travelers.

Americans are slightly less frustrated about traveling than they were a few months ago: In July 2007, the frustration meter read 53.9 points. It then increased to 57.5 points in April of 2008, and has declined slightly to read 55.1.

Results of the aggregated index over the past five quarters, according to Access America:


The index also allows for comparisons among various demographic groups:

  • For example, it appears that leisure travelers at a score of 55.2 are more frustrated with traveling than are business travelers, with a score of 52.9.
  • Women (score of 57) are significantly more frustrated with traveling than are men (score of 53.2) on the whole.

Changes in Frustration Level

The proportion of Americans frustrated with “the cost of gas” has risen 8 points, to 83%, from an identical survey conducted in July 2007. An increase of 7 points has occurred among those frustrated with “the cost of airline, cruise line or train tickets” (48% to 55%). Slightly more Americans are now frustrated with the “the cost of lodging,” up 5 points to 49%.

Americans are actually less frustrated with “airline/airport service” than they used to be, with the proportion who report being frustrated down to 49% from 54% a year or so ago.

Thinking about the most frustrating thing that they’ve encountered while traveling in the last couple of months, one in three (31%) cite “gas prices” as the culprit, while others report being most frustrated by “traffic issues” (18%), “delays/timing issues” (6%), “airport/airline issues” (6%), “security” issues (4%), or just simply “other people” (2%).

Not Equally Frustrated

Some Americans are more frustrated with various aspects of travel than others:

  • Women (61%) are considerably more likely than men (50%) to be frustrated with the “cost of airline, cruise or train tickets.” Similarly, women (26%) are more likely than men (17%) to be frustrated with “difficulty booking” their trip. Across the board, women are more likely to be frustrated by travel than men.
  • “The cost of lodging and/or attractions” most frustrates younger Americans (age 18-34: 52%), followed by middle-aged Americans (age 35-54: 52%), and older Americans (age 55+: 42%).
  • Younger Americans (60%) are also more likely than their older counterparts (53%) to be frustrated with the “cost of airline, cruise and train tickets.”
  • Older individuals (40%) are more likely than younger folks (35%) to be frustrated with homeland security. Booking their trips also causes more older folks (26%) grief than younger Americans (19%).
  • Interestingly, few regional differences exist, suggesting that Americans are united in their travel frustrations, and no aspects of traveling are particularly burdensome in one area over another. However, those living in the Northeast (33%) are more likely than those in the South (29%), West (28%), and the Midwest (22%) to be frustrated by “the weather” while traveling.

About the findings: These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted August 11-19, 2008. For the survey, a nationally representative sample of 2,006 Americans (including 1,025 recent travelers) were interviewed by telephone via Ipsos’s US Telephone Express omnibus. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample’s regional and age/gender composition reflects that of the actual US population according to data from the US Census Bureau.

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