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Volume 18, Number 21, May 19, 2004

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Study Shows Passengers Prefer Smaller Aircraft

International air travelers overwhelmingly prefer being on 250-seat airplanes to 550-seat airplanes, whether flying non-stop or on connecting flights, a Harris Interactive® study of more than 900 long-distance fliers found.

Harris Interactive surveyed travelers from Tokyo, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom who had recently taken at least one international flight of eight or more hours. Boeing commissioned the study to determine the aircraft preferences of these fliers.

"We presented respondents with real-life air travel scenarios to better understand the attitudes and feelings that led to their choices," said Dr. David Bakken, senior vice president of Marketing Sciences, Harris Interactive. "What we found was that travelers taking very long flights generally prefer the more convenient and flexible experience provided by smaller planes."

In each region, Harris polled equal numbers of Premium Class Business, Economy Business, and Economy Leisure travelers. Some key findings include:

  • More than 60 percent prefer a single-deck, 250-passenger airplane to a double-deck, 550-passenger airplane for non-stop flights.

  • Seven out of ten travelers prefer a non-stop trip on a single-deck, 250-passenger airplane to a trip involving a connecting flight on a double-deck, 550-passenger airplane with an on-board lounge.

  • Travelers in all the classes of service from all three regions believe smaller airplanes will provide a better experience with check-in, boarding, disembarking, baggage claim and customs/immigration than the 550-seat aircraft.

These overall results are also reflected in the individual results for the regions and the traveler classes surveyed. As the table below shows, the preference for smaller planes tends to be somewhat more pronounced among passengers who fly economy class; and, the preference increases for all classes when they are asked to choose between a non-stop flight on a smaller plane or a one-stop/connecting trip on a larger plane.

Base: All Respondents AIRPLANE PREFERENCES BY REGION
  U.K. Hong Kong Tokyo
Plane preferences for non-stop flight % % %
Premium Class Business Travelers preferring 250-passenger airplane 67 59 47
Premium Class Business Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane
23 32 27
Premium Class Business Travelers choosing neither plane 10 9 26
 
Economy Business Travelers preferring 250-passenger airplane
65 54 64
Economy Business Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane
21 40 22
Economy Business Travelers choosing neither plane
14 6 13
 
Economy Leisure Travelers preferring 250-passenger airplane
71 60 63
Economy Leisure Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane
17 37 28
Economy Leisure Travelers choosing neither plane 11 3 10
Plane preferences for non-stop for smaller plane v. one-stop/connection involving larger plane
Premium Class Business Travelers preferring 250-passenger airplane
79 79 63
Premium Class Business Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane 11 11 9
Premium Class Business Travelers choosing neither plane 11 10 28
 
Economy Business Travelers preferring 250-passenger airplane
73 75 76
Economy Business Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane 14 19 11
Economy Business Travelers choosing neither plane 14 6 13
 
Economy Leisure Travelers preferring 250-Passenger airplane 80 81 78
Economy Leisure Travelers preferring 550-passenger airplane 9 16 11
Economy Leisure Travelers choosing neither plane 11 3 11

Notes:
1. "Premium Class Business" includes First- and Business-Class passengers traveling for business.
2. Percentages may not add up exactly due to rounding.

"The consistency and strength of these results across all markets and classes of travelers provides further proof that passengers want to fly in smaller airplanes that take them non-stop to where they want to go, when they want to go," said Randy Baseler, vice president -- Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our product strategy is designed to do just that, design and build airplanes that carry passengers non-stop, point-to-point, with more frequency choices -- in other words, where they want, when they want."

Methodology

This survey is based on 913 interviews conducted in the United Kingdom, Tokyo, and Hong Kong with international travelers (aged 18 and over) who had taken at least one recent eight-hour or longer flight. Interviews were conducted between November 2003 and February 2004 using a two-stage methodology. Respondents were first screened and qualified by telephone or via in-person interviews and then they completed an online survey at home/work or at a central interviewing location.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of ±3.3 percentage points for the overall sample and ±5.6 percentage points for each city of what they would be if the entire air-traveling population for those regions had been polled with complete accuracy.

About Harris Interactive®

Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll®, and for pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, Harris Interactive combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in predictive, custom and strategic research. The Company conducts international research from its U.S. offices and through wholly owned subsidiaries -- London-based HI Europe (http://www.hieurope.com), Paris-based Novatris and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan -- as well as through the Harris Interactive Global Network of independent market- and opinion-research firms.


Copyright © 2004 MPRM Group Limited. All rights reserved.

Publisher and Editor In Chief:
Micheal J. O'Brien
The Wednesday Report is published and printed weekly in hard copy by MPRM Group Limited
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