How are British travellers adapting travel plans amid fears of airport strikes and prolonged queues?
July 13th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

How are British travellers adapting travel plans amid fears of airport strikes and prolonged queues?

Travel in 2022 reached its highest level since the onset of the pandemic, and there remains a significant desire among Britons to travel in 2023. But are travellers concerned about potential airport strikes and prolonged queues?

In this article, with data from YouGov Surveys: Serviced, we see if British travellers are being pre-emptively cautious when making travel plans for this year and what steps they are willing to take to avoid any travel day chaos.

A few days ago, Heathrow airport security staff called off their strike amid a pay deal, but travellers remain concerned. While fewer than one in ten Britons say they experienced airport strikes last year (9%), polling data shows that over half of them are anticipating airport strikes this year (58%).

Nearly a third of British consumers are expecting to have to wait in queues for 30 minutes to an hour (32%) during peak summer travel months. Almost a quarter of travellers are anticipating the check-in and security lines to take them anything between one to two hours in summer season time (23%).

The survey also looks into measures that travellers might adopt if faced with airport strikes, through the lens of business and leisure travellers separately. Nearly a third of business travellers – defined those who travel at least once in six months – are likely to plan their trips around strike dates (32%). Around a quarter of business travellers would arrive early to avoid queues (24%) and buy travel insurance (23%).

Among leisure travellers, arriving early at the airport to avoid queues (49%) is the most cited method to deal with issues that might arise out of airport strikes. More than two-fifths of leisure travellers (42%) will check strike dates online before planning trips.

Leisure travellers are also more likely than business travellers to buy travel insurance (30% vs 23%).

What leisure travellers are less likely to do when compared to business travellers is travel from a different airport (17% vs 26%), go by road or train to avoid flying (14% vs 23%), go to a different destination (8% vs. 16%) and only book flexible tickets (10% vs. 20%).

Around two in ten frequent travellers (21% business and 20% leisure) would book flights closer to their planned holiday date, rather than book in advance.

One in seven British leisure travellers (14%), and a slightly smaller share of business travellers, would also consider simply travelling less often if faced with the prospect of airport strikes.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on June 23-26, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2,058 adults in Great Britain (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and region to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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