Last updated: 11:31 AM ET, Thu September 10 2015

It Turns Out, Travelers Have a Positive View of Airlines

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 10, 2015

It Turns Out, Travelers Have a Positive View of Airlines

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Yes, there are cramped seats, little legroom, baggage and other ancillary fees, and sometimes delays. But for the most part, Americans view the airline industry more positively than negatively, according to an annual Gallup poll of 24 business industries and sectors.

This is the third consecutive year that the public has viewed airlines in a more positive than negative light after six straight years of the reversal.

Gallup annually asks Americans to rate business and industries as part of its August Work and Education poll. Americans rate each industry on a five-point scale ranging from very positive to very negative. The airline industry has a net +3 positive rating this year, based on a combined 35 percent of respondents rating it very positively or positively, and 32 percent rating it very negatively or negatively. This rating ranks in the bottom third of the industries this year.

The favorability of the airline industry has fluctuated over the years. In 2008, when many industries saw their ratings drop as the economy was in recession, positive ratings of the airline industry fell sharply from 30 percent to 18 percent. At that time, record-high gas prices and lower consumer travel expenditures forced airlines to introduce additional fees, increase prices and lay off employees.

Young adults, those aged 18 to 29, are more likely than older Americans to view the airline industry positively. Based on combined data from 2013 through 2015, 44 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 had a positive view of the industry, compared with fewer than four in 10 in all other age groups.

Younger Americans' more positive views of the airline industry could be attributed to the fact that drastic changes in the industry's history occurred before they were born. No one in this age group was alive before airlines were deregulated in 1978. This move, which was supposed to make air travel less expensive, is what introduced more fees, the bankruptcy of many small airports and several airline mergers. Furthermore, the youngest Americans also became adults and began flying more after airport changes following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


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