Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Thu January 21 2016

Here Are The Things Americans Will Pay For On An Airplane

Airlines & Airports | Gabe Zaldivar | January 21, 2016

Here Are The Things Americans Will Pay For On An Airplane

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

A mobile device is second only to water as far as items Americans can’t go without when flying.

And that is just one of a few interesting factoids gleaned from a recent study proffered by Expedia and Northstar.

At the heart of the study was finding what Americans deemed worthy of their hard-earned money as pertains to in-flight amenities. For example, did you know there is a “no kids” zone on some planes?

That just one more item that enriched our wisdom, so let’s dive right into what we discovered thanks to a press release from Expedia.

First, duration matters when it comes to Americans purchasing amenities. As the study of over 11,000 respondents found from 22 countries, a flight less than three hours meant more Americans were ready to hold onto their respective wallets.

The study found: “On short-haul flights, Americans are most willing to pay for seats with extra leg room. 21 percent of Americans would pay for the perk, versus 24 percent of fliers worldwide. Only 15 percent of Americans would pay for ‘a full meal,’ versus 26 percent worldwide. 45 percent of the Chinese were willing to pay for a meal in that situation. However, 13 percent of Americans would pay for alcohol on a short flight, higher than the 10 percent global average.”

READ MORE: Is Airline Food Experiencing a Renaissance?

Things change when you are destined to sit in a seat for a bunch of hours: “As flights increase in duration, American wallets loosen. On long-haul flights (between 7-12 hours), 49 percent of Americans would pay for a full meal, 41 percent would pay for extra leg room and 20 percent would pay for alcohol. Americans are also among the likeliest fliers worldwide to pay for an aisle seat on a flight of this length, with 16 percent preferring the perk, second only to 17 percent of Singaporeans.”

Now when it came to what travelers absolutely had to have when flying, the results were hardly shocking.

When asked to pick out five things they just “could not live without,” respondents led to the following results: “Among Americans, water occupied the top slot, cited by 43 percent of respondents. A phone/mobile device was seen as the second most-important in-flight asset, at 33 percent. 26 percent of Americans could not fly without headphones, 24 percent prioritize a meal, and 22 percent need magazines/newspapers.”

Thankfully, things aren’t always so high-tech nowadays. If you really want to make American travelers happy, just make sure they stay far away from the land of parched lips and dry throats.

Now an amenity you might not consider is the sweet sound of silence. Expedia notes: “As flight durations grow, more Americans expressed a willingness to pay for a child-free ‘quiet zone’ within the plane, an amenity that is not yet widely available. 8 percent of Americans would pay for that privilege on a flight shorter than three hours, but that percentage more than doubled, to 18 percent, on flights exceeding 12 hours. Worldwide, the likeliest fliers to pay for a quiet zone on 12+ hour flights hail from Mexico (41 percent), Thailand (38 percent) and Taiwan (37 percent).”

READ MORE: 10 Rules for Flying With Small Children

The all-important three-hour mark seems to be the breaking point between paying for a meal or some peace and quiet and simply dealing with the misery of being stuck in a tiny capsule soaring hundreds of miles through the air.

Greg Schulze, Senior Vice President, Global Tour and Transport,, had this to say about the results: “We found that fliers in some nations, such as Mexico, appear to be comfortable paying for extra amenities, but Americans are still somewhat resistant.”

And poring over the numbers you find something really quite simple: Americans can take just about anything in a short span of time.

But if you dare make us sit idle for more than a few hours we will make it rain to ensure an entertaining and somewhat quiet trip.


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