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How recent airline incidents are changing habits and impacting airfare costs

Mar 26, 2024, 10:15 PM | Updated: 11:13 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — After a year of headlines lamenting runway incursions and midair close calls, the wheels may be coming off for the airline industry. Literally.

Incidents like the wheel coming of a United Airlines jetliner just after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport to the midflight nightmare of a door blown out on that Alaska Airlines flight after leaving Portland International, many travelers are starting to have a heightened fear of flying.


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“The safety incidents with some airlines have given them pause as to whether they wanted to travel,” said Matt Schulz of LendingTree.

LendingTree surveyed travelers and found 36% of Americans are reconsidering air-travel trips. The number is higher for people with young kids: 44%. And about one in five Americans, 18%, are “not flying as much as they used to, or at all.”

“Those are big numbers,” Schulz said. “And I would imagine that causes some serious concern on the airline side.”

Airfare prices have dropped. The KSL Investigators looked into price reports through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and found the average ticket price now stands at $263.95, approximately 6.12% lower than the $281.21 it was a year ago. Tickets today are even slightly cheaper than prices were in February 2020, before the shutdowns caused by the pandemic and then the inflation that followed.

Many factors go into airline ticket prices, but less demand is certainly one of them.

“When these incidents happen, even though they are a very, very tiny fraction of the overall air traffic in this country, it makes big headlines,” Schulz said.

The LendingTree survey found older generations feel the most comfortable with flying: 70% of Gen Xers and 68% of baby boomers say their willingness to fly hasn’t changed.

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How recent airline incidents are changing habits and impacting airfare costs