Smaller seat sizes in airplanes a big concern for SEA travellers: TripAdvisor

EVERYBODY could do with more legroom when travelling by air and South-east Asians are now willing to pay for that extra space or a better seat, found a survey by TripAdvisor.

The annual air travel survey reported that unpredictable flight delays or cancellations were the biggest annoyance for 73 per cent of those polled, followed by uncomfortable seats/limited legroom (70 per cent), added fees (58 per cent), long security lines/custom wait times (52 per cent), and loud or crying children (50 per cent).

Although seats were only the second biggest peeve for travellers, results showed that shrinking seats were something that they felt strongly about.

Sixty-five per cent were “strongly opposed” to airlines installing narrower seats; 38 per cent “always” or “often” pay extra for a better spot; while 54 per cent said they are more likely to pay for a better seat than five years ago.

Asked what would make the air travel experience better, 28 per cent of responders said more comfortable seats, 23 per cent wanted more legroom, and 18 per cent desired more privacy by having more space between other passengers.

“With the rise of low-cost carriers, we can expect to see more growth for short-haul flights in the next few years. While air travel continues to be popular, seat comfort remains the biggest concern for flyers in the region,” said Andrew Wong, regional director of TripAdvisor Flights, APAC.

“To better serve the traveller, airlines would be wise to take note of these complaints and make some improvements, especially in the economy cabin for longhaul flights.”

He added: “Ease of online bookings and the introduction of new flight routes are the most appreciated improvements in recent years for travellers in South-east Asia.”

The others are the increased number of flight/itinerary options, the ability to compare prices on flight search sites, and comprehensive fare, flight and price information on a single site.

TripAdvisor’s air travel survey was conducted with 2,566 travellers from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, from April 24 to May 7, 2015.

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