Extra leg room or adult only zone: What in-flight upgrades are travelers likely to pay for?
February 12th, 2024, Janice Fernandes

Extra leg room or adult only zone: What in-flight upgrades are travelers likely to pay for?

According to YouGov data, approximately three-quarters of global respondents (73%) are intending to embark on either a domestic or international holiday in 2024. In this article, we explore the in-flight upgrades that adults planning to fly in 2024 are likely to consider purchasing to elevate their travel experience.

The survey reveals that when it comes to flight upgrades, the top choice among respondents is the ability to choose a preferred seat, with 37% of travelers worldwide expressing keen interest. This inclination is strong in numerous surveyed markets, particularly in Great Britain (43%), Mexico (43%), and Australia (43%).

Following closely is extra leg-room seats, albeit at a slightly lower percentage (28%). Notably, Germans stand out as the most likely to prioritize physical comfort during flights, with around two-fifths of passengers (40%) opting for this upgrade. A more spacious and comfortable journey is deemed worthwhile by roughly a third of travelers in the APAC markets, including Australia (32%), Singapore (30%), Hong Kong (31%), and Indonesia (35%).

For 27% of overall respondents, the option of extra baggage ranks high on the list of desirable flight upgrades. This preference is especially pronounced in countries like the United Arab Emirates (40%), where travelers prioritize the convenience of carrying additional luggage. In contrast, fewer than one in five travelers from the United States would opt to pay for extra baggage (16%).

Approximately 22% of respondents worldwide express a preference for upgrading their in-flight meals and drinks. Notably, India (46%) and the UAE (38%) stand out as countries where passengers are particularly inclined toward enhancing the culinary aspects of their journey.

While early check-in is a priority for 20% of all surveyed travelers, it holds particular significance for respondents in Italy (34%). Access to airport lounges appeals to 15% of respondents, with nearly three in ten consumers in Hong Kong (29%), India (29%), and the UAE (28%) saying they would pay for it. However, consumers in most surveyed markets are not as likely to purchase this upgrade, with only about one in nine travelers from the US (11%) and Denmark (11%) indicating they would pay for amenities and comfort provided by airport lounges.

Approximately 15% of respondents express a preference for the luxury of business or first-class seats. While US travelers are equally likely as the overall respondents (15%) to invest in a more premium flying experience, Britons are significantly less inclined to do so (8%). However, travelers in certain markets significantly outpace all respondents, as seen in Australia (21%), Singapore (20%), the UAE (26%), and India (26%).

For 15% of all respondents, the availability of entertainment content during the flight is a significant factor. However, while a higher share of travelers from eastern countries – UAE (24%), India (31%), Hong Kong (24%) – would purchase an entertainment upgrade, fewer consumers in the west are concerned about it – US (11%), Britain (7%), Denmark (6%).

Polling data further reveals that a small section of respondents (9%) expresses a preference for adults-only zones on airplanes. 

It is noteworthy that 12% of respondents worldwide indicate that they are not interested in any of the specified flight upgrades. This sentiment is particularly strong in Great Britain and the US (21% each), followed by Denmark (19%), Canada (16%), Sweden (15%), and Germany (14%).

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 501 and 2,023 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in December 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Image: Getty Images