From weather disruptions to computer problems to crew shortages, Americans are once again facing a year of travel limbo. A recent survey indicates a growing frustration with airport conditions and travelers opting to drive for over six hours to avoid taking a one-hour flight.
The FAA outage in January was just one of the many events that grounded travelers recently, as thousands of flights were delayed or canceled across the US. Travelers have been warned to expect more problems this year – even a breakdown at a smaller regional airport can have a domino effect across the country.
A survey of 3,000 by FamilyDestinationsGuide.com asked travelers a hypothetical question: ‘How far would you be prepared to drive to your chosen destination rather than fly for one hour?'
The surgery results might surprise you. Travelers flying out of American airports would opt to drive for an average of 6 hours and 14 minutes rather than take a one-hour flight. FamilyDestinationsGuide.com has created an interactive map showing how far travelers across the country would be prepared to drive to avoid airport chaos.
“The current flight disruptions will likely continue through the rest of the year, so it might be wise to consider planning your trip by car instead of air. While flying might be faster in theory, the freedom and flexibility of hitting the open road in a car can allow for a more personal and memorable travel experience,” says Rose Ackermann, Editor-in-Chief of FamilyDestinationsGuide.com.
Montana Is Comfortable in Their Cars
The most flight-averse state in the US currently is Montana, with residents opting to drive for 11 hours and 30 minutes in order to avoid taking a one-hour flight.
So why are Montanans so wary of the skies? Perhaps it's due to the state's remoteness and reliance on regional airports that are far more vulnerable to flight disruptions than major hubs.
“In Montana, one bad storm or computer glitch can cause travel chaos for days. So it's no wonder many survey respondents opted to take their chances in the car instead of risking a delayed flight and a ruined vacation,” explains Max from Media Decision.
Interestingly, the state located south of Montana's border feels entirely different. One hour and 30 minutes is the maximum Wyoming residents will drive to avoid flying.
East Coast Differences
New Hampshire and Vermont are another example of two US states sharing borders whose residents have polar opposite views on airport delays. New Hampshire residents would opt to drive for only 3 hours and 6 minutes, while Vermont residents are willing to drive for a whopping 9 hours and 30 minutes.
“With travel demand returning to pre-pandemic levels but airline staffing lagging behind, the risk of flight delays or cancellations in recent months has gone through the roof. Between the travel time to the airport, security check-in, and ensuring you have enough buffer to make your flight, a simple one-hour flight can easily turn into a whole day of travel. I find it is often easier and more enjoyable to make a five or six-hour drive in lieu of the stress of preparing for the unknowns of air travel,” comments Andrew Herrig.
Oregon residents are one of the least bothered by airport delays and were not interested in racking up a large number of miles to circumvent flying. At most, residents in Oregon reported they were only willing to drive 4 hours and 53 minutes, respectively, to avoid a one-hour flight.
In Oregon, the land of volcanoes, mountains, and forests, it's easy to see why some travelers would be willing to eschew flying in favor of slowing down and enjoying the scenery.
“Oregon is home to so many natural wonders like the Rocky Mountains that driving through them can be a great way to get away from it all,” comments realtor Andrew Karpiak. “I would be more than willing to opt for a car journey rather than a flight.”
Start The Car
Regardless of location, travelers across the US are making a shift toward road trips. When it comes to planning further ahead, 74% said they are more likely to road trip this summer rather than fly to a typical vacation destination.
The survey also found that almost half (48%) of travelers say they have put off air travel until the current disruptions have been sorted.
Interestingly, over half said they would be prepared to pay a premium for flight tickets if it would guarantee there would be no delays. Of those who said they would be prepared to pay more, the average traveler would pay 32% more than the standard ticket price. Given the average fare is around $397, the average traveler would pay an additional $127 to get where they want to go on time.
Finally, respondents who have recently been affected by the travel disruptions were asked to rate their frustration on a scale of 1-10. The average respondent rated theirs at a solid 8 out of 10.
While the majority of survey respondents are frustrated with air travel, there are still many travelers out there who don't mind rolling the dice with airport delays. Ashlee Ferino from The Happiness Function does not share the same sentiments as those in the study.
“I wouldn't waste time driving, period. When we lived in Grand Junction, Colorado, I would rather pay the $400 to catch a flight to Denver than drive I-70 over the Rockies any time of year. And now we live in Tulsa, and I'd rather pay to connect in Dallas (4 hour drive/1 hour flight) than drive to Dallas!”
“But, we are becoming more aware of connecting flights even if it means not using apps and instead booking directly with the airlines. 90% of the time, I manage a carry-on only because I'm worried about my bag getting lost.”
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.