Americans Are Actually Pretty Satisfied with Air Travel Right Now

A new study suggests that customer gripes with airlines are much fewer than you'd guess.

If one only used social media as a metric, it would be easy to assume that most Americans are extremely dissatisfied with their flying experiences in recent years. Search the words “flight” and “awful” on X (formerly Twitter), and thousands upon thousands of posts pop-up, all containing the vitriol of very unsatisfied customers. But like so much of life, social media doesn’t capture the whole picture—or even a complete picture.

According to a new Ipsos poll published by Airlines for America, 71% of Americans are at least somewhat satisfied with air travel in 2023. The poll was conducted between January 4-12, 2024 and surveyed a national sample of 3,452 adults. A breakdown of the data shows that 27% of passengers are “very satisfied,” and 44% of passengers are “somewhat satisfied” with their air travel experience in 2023.

Only 3% of respondents were “very dissatisfied” and 8% of respondents were “somewhat dissatisfied.” For 18% of respondents, they were simply “neutral.” The poll was conducted during the height of the initial news about the Alaska Airlines fuselage blowout.

Courtesy of Airlines for America

“The results of this year’s survey show that a significant majority of Americans continue to enjoy commercial air travel and that efforts carriers have made to improve the customer experience through their mobile apps are paying off,” said Airlines for America Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich, about the results of the poll.

The complete results of the poll also showed that the top three priorities for passengers are:

  • Lower prices
  • Better flight schedules
  • More comfortable seats

So, as often as there are complaints about airlines on the internet—there are so many variations of “what an awful flight” floating around out there—just know that the data suggests differently. That’s not too surprising. We know that public perceptions around flying can often be distorted by the media and our peers. Even as flying is the safest it's ever been, more people are reporting fears of flying due to recent events such as the Boeing incidents.

But if you do find yourself in a situation where you want to rage-tweet at an airline after a terrible experience, check out our resources on what to do if your flight gets canceled or delayed first.

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for eight years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.