An in-flight experience survey by ixigo shows that as travellers return to the skies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the confidence in air travel is also rising.
ixigo, a leading AI-based travel app conducted the in-flight experience survey studying the current and future traveller sentiment and shifts in travel intentions with a sample of 5000 users also known as ‘Early travellers’ – a group of flyers who have travelled in July-August-September and are ready to travel again in the next 3 months.
The survey results showed that as travellers return to the skies, the confidence in air travel is rising. 42% of the respondents who had flown recently in the past three months had a comfortable and safe in-flight experience and are ready to travel again.
The survey indicated that the likelihood of the respondents to take another domestic trip during the next 3 months (42%) is the highest it has been as compared to an earlier sentiment survey done in May (16%).
Top apprehensions of travellers in the pandemic-era air travel: Airport vs In-flight
Safety and hygiene measures being adopted by airlines and various properties remained the most important aspect for travellers during COVID-19. The survey revealed that queuing during check-in/security (64%) and in-flight social distancing (51%) feature amongst the top apprehensions of air passengers who have travelled recently.
Travellers were also concerned about eating on the plane (9%), cleanliness of common areas and washrooms (24%) and arranging travel from the arrival airport (22%).
With the current pandemic there is an increase in anxiety among travellers with respect to planning their next trip. Forty six percent of the respondents said fully refundable bookings for travel and accommodation would be the top priority for them while making bookings in the future.
To reduce travel anxiety, ixigo has also launched a new air fare feature ‘ixigo assured’ offering travellers full refunds on cancellations on all new domestic flight bookings.
Rajnish Kumar, Co-Founder and CTO, ixigo said, “As travel demand recovers, we want our users to feel confident and safe and give them a flexible, stress-free booking experience. ‘ixigo assured’ is already helping our users make smarter travel plans by offering an assured refund on all domestic flight cancellations, for any reason whatsoever, prior to their date of departure.”
Indian travellers share tips for travelling during COVID-19
The survey asked respondents to share safety tips for fellow travellers to keep in mind while making future tips. Some of the most cited tips included suggestions to ‘Reach the airport in time to avoid rush/panic’, ‘maintain adequate social distancing’ and ‘carrying personal safety gear including PPE kits’ to minimise exposure to COVID-19.
Workcation’ emerges as a big travel trend for the season
The trend report also reveals the changing preferences of Indian travellers post domestic flights resuming operations. With travel re-opening, work vacations aka workcations have become the biggest travel trend of the season. With a majority of Indian companies announcing Work From Home till the end of the year, 30% of recent travellers revealed that they have already been working remotely from a leisure destination of their choice.
“Working from popular leisure destinations aka ‘workcations‘ has emerged as the biggest travel trend of the season. We have seen a 27% month-on-month increase in search queries for popular destinations and getaways such as Goa, Jaipur, Shimla, Udaipur and Uttarakhand,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO and Co-Founder, ixigo said.
Mr. Bajpai added that most of the travellers opted for home rentals, service apartments, villas as their preferred choice of workation accommodation followed by resorts and eco-friendly properties with distant cottages. “Attractive hotel deals and flexible cancellation policies are further encouraging travellers to embrace this new trend,” he said.
Institutional quarantine – a satisfactory experience for most travellers
Travellers also shared their top concerns when they arrived at their final destination. While a majority of them had initially reported concerns around being quarantined, more than 51% of the respondents who had to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine were very satisfied with the overall experience.
When asked about their preferred communication channels for receiving new quarantine protocol/guidelines on destination states, 40% respondents said they received their information while booking via ixigo from the app’s COVID-19 info page. 23% of the travellers got their information online or through news while 17% got it from the airline of their choice. Only 13% travellers were still unaware of the latest protocols and got the information directly at the airport.
Last-minute bookings to dominate air travel
Due to the current uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, travellers were also seen booking closer to the actual trip date than usual, with less advanced planning. ixigo has seen an increase in searches to travel within a week in 2020 as compared to last year.
With the establishment of travel bubbles, international leisure travel queries and bookings are also picking up. “We have seen a 57% Month-on-Month increase in search enquiries in September for international destinations which indicates a strong interest in international travel in coming months. Increase in queries were for destinations like Dubai, London, Bangkok, Maldives and Kuala Lumpur among others,” Mr. Bajpai said.