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Air Travelers' Top Complaints


Nothing upsets an air traveler more than buckling into a stiff and cramped seat for a flight across the country, a new study finds.

Research from the online travel site TripAdvisor discovered that uncomfortable seats and limited legroom are the top complaints about air travel. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said giving passengers more legroom was the No. 1 thing airlines should do to improve the in-flight experience.

Despite the desire for more comfort, few travelers are willing to pay for it. The study revealed that 44 percent of travelers have never paid extra for a better seating assignment, while 85 percent wouldn't pay more than $25 for a comfier seat. 

Among the other top complaints from travelers are unpredictable flight delays, long security lines and other passengers. In addition, fliers have a host of gripes with the numerous fees that come with air travel. Passengers said the most annoying airline fees are:

  • Checked baggage
  • Carry-on baggage
  • Seat selection
  • Printed boarding pass at airport
  • In-flight amenities

"Fliers continue to voice concerns about the challenges associated with air travel, such as extra fees and limited legroom," said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights. "However, it seems equally clear that these challenges are not limiting the increasing demand for flights."

The study found that 91 percent of those surveyed intend to take a domestic flight at least once in 2013, up from 86 percent a year ago. International travel is also on the rise, with 67 percent of travelers planning a flight abroad, compared with just 56 percent in 2012.

Airlines hoping to attract new fliers in 2013 should focus on technological amenities. One-quarter of those surveyed would choose one airline over another if it offered Wi-Fi.

The research was based on surveys of 2,000 air travelers.

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.