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Concerns over airline safety are on the rise among American consumers. CivicScience data collected directly after a mid-air door blowout on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 show that nearly 50% of U.S. adults are at least ‘somewhat reluctant’ to fly right now due to safety concerns – a 15 percentage point increase since September.
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The travel industry as a whole isn’t likely to feel a big blowout from the incident, however, despite increased concern. As of January, data show the percentage of Americans who plan to travel by plane in the next month remains on par with last year. New data also find a majority of Americans (68%) still believe traveling by commercial airline is safer than it was a decade ago.
That said, some airlines may be more impacted than others by safety concerns. A look at major commercial airlines by consumer preference tracking indicates that people who are likely to fly with Spirit Airlines are the most likely to be ‘very reluctant’ to fly due to safety concerns. Roughly 1-in-3 Southwest and JetBlue flyers feel highly averse to flying right now, compared to just 1-in-5 American Airlines flyers, who are also the least likely to avoid flying right now.
Interestingly, the Alaska Airlines blowout and subsequent flight cancelations didn’t appear to shake consumer confidence among people who like to fly on the airline, when compared to most other popular airlines. While 61% are ‘a little’ to ‘somewhat’ hesitant to fly due to safety concerns, just 19% feel ‘very reluctant.’ United has also canceled several of its Boeing 737 flights, although United flyers are comparably much more likely to be ‘very reluctant’ to take to the skies right now (28%).
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For more insights into how the Boeing 737 incident is affecting consumer travel plans, check out the CivicScience Social | Political | Economic | Cultural (SPEC) Report – a weekly report available to clients covering the latest news and insights.