British Airways investigates fliers’ odd habits

BA uncovers quirks that make passengers comfortable

New research commissioned by British Airways has revealed the range of emotions fliers go through when they travel and the quirks that make them feel comfortable.

The study, by Ipsos MORI, found that travellers experience seven different emotions when they fly: enjoyment, conviviality, belonging, security, control, empowerment and vitality.

Most travellers feel the need to start off in control, often exhibiting behaviours such as ticking off check-lists and lying to partners by telling them the flight leaves earlier than it really does in order to get to the airport in plenty of time.

Once there, people continue with the control phase and are super-organised. Documents are to hand, ready for each checkpoint. Travellers are usually clutching their 100ml liquids in a plastic bag ready for security, and the time they have to spend in duty free has been calculated with precision in advance. They organise now what items they will need in their seats on the flight and what should be stored in the overhead lockers.

This need for “control” now starts to combine with the “empowerment” need. Regular travellers will know which seat they want and will use the shortcuts they know to get through the airport more quickly. Many also make a final toilet stop before boarding.

But once on board the “secure” and “belonging” feelings kick in, with fliers appreciating the announcement from the pilots and a smile from the crew. At this stage most will arrange the space around them to their specifications.

This is when the “enjoyment” and “convivial” behaviours come to the fore, BA says, and there is a distinct theme of suspending normal life with many fliers admitting to breaking their own norms and indulging in calorific food, drinking alcohol first thing in the morning and watching three films in a row “because they can”. Those travelling with others will use this time to eat together and many will watch the same films to share the experience. The “vitality” need – a desire to experience something new – shows itself at various points during the journey – for example in planning or being more open to trying different foods.

Travel News

[pictured: British Airways Lounge; courtesy oneworld]