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To Bring Back Passengers, Airlines Must Reduce Air Travel Stress

travel bags and airplane in sky

A new peer-reviewed study published in Tourism Management, a group of marketing and tourism management researchers say before flyers will come back to the skies, airlines must find ways to reduce stress over the passenger experience. By managing conservation of resources, airlines can potentially encourage flyers to book travel once again.

Perhaps the biggest barrier between flyers and boarding aircraft isn’t the actual threat of contracting COVID-19, but rather the fear of contracting it. That hypothesis is being forwarded in a new peer-reviewed paper published in the academic journal Tourism Management.

To Help Flyers, Airlines Could Practice Conservation of Resources Theory

“Effective air-travel stress management is increasingly crucial in determining tourist satisfaction and travel choices,” the study reads. “Particularly in a time of intensive fear about virus, terrorism, and plane crashes.”

Although research on air travel stress is still in its infancy, there’s still an understandably high level of anxiety on flying. To determine what was bothering flyers, the researchers polled travelers at the gate of multi-country international and domestic airports. They discovered that irregular events – like the COVID-19 pandemic – created more stress for young flyers, those with stressful occupations and those who do not travel often.

To mitigate their fears, the researchers from the Florida Atlantic University and Florida Gulf Coast University concluded that airlines need to practice Conservation of Resources theory to soothe flyers. To better help flyers navigate today’s experience, airlines should be prepared to use their resources to empathize and educate flyers.

“The current research proposes the adoption of Conservation of Resources (COR) theory as a holistic schema to identify through resource dynamics the potential influential forces for air-travel stress across leisure travel stages,” the study reads. “The theoretical advances from COR-based cross-stage stress analyses, and the guidance for customized airline/airport stress-soothing service strategies” should be part of the new customer experience.

From Testing to Policy, Airlines Are Working Hard to Win Back Business

Although the study offers direct, actionable advice on how to manage everything from irregular operations to unpleasant passenger behaviors and service failures, the carriers are working hard to help flyers feel safe. American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines have all introduced pre-flight COVID-19 testing opportunities to help flyers navigate quarantine restrictions in Hawaii and create peace of mind, while also mandating all flyers wear a face covering from when they enter to when they leave the airport. United is taking it one step further, reminding flyers to re-cover their faces after eating or drinking.

To some extent, it appears their strategies are working. According to data from the Transportation Security Administration, security agents screened over 1 million passengers across the country on Oct. 18, 2020. It was the first time screenings surpassed the threshold since the pandemic began. The flyer count was roughly 40 percent lower than the number of screenings performed on the same date in 2019.

The_Bouncer October 26, 2020

There is one way to bring back passengers and that is to make flying a less unpleasant experience. People who are terrified of the dreaded lurgy are never going to fly unless they absolutely have to. People who actually want to travel have choices. I decided long ago that it is never worth flying to any destination that is within a one day drive. With all the ludicrous hoops to jump through these days, I have now extended that to anywhere within a two or even three day drive.

MRM October 23, 2020

jjmoore: The effects of COVID - even without death - far exceed the common flu or cold - in even "minor" cases. The refusal of people like yourself to acknowledge that one simple fact is what's keeping this country as miserable as it can be. Your statement about "freedoms, not treading on our rights" can absolutely and positively be trumped by another simple fact: nobody has the right to inflict harm upon others - whether direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional - period. If you really believe mask wearing is a slippery slope to every movement and action of everyone being regulated by the govt., then I suggest you remove the tin hat and see if that helps clear up your thinking. The namecalling you did at the end was very convincing though...

johninmelbourne October 22, 2020

After reading the responses it's not hard to see why 222,000 people have died and 8.3 million people have developed Covid symptoms in the US. But I guess 222,000 deaths is just collateral damage and people who have lost loved ones in the pandemic need to harden up. It's the price you have to pay to ensure others can do whatever they like with no regard to anyone else but themselves. In America, personal rights to do whatever you like regardless of the effect on other people will always transcend personal responsibility.

jjmoore October 21, 2020

@MRM - Our country was founded on freedoms, respecting freedoms, and not treading on our rights. Since I will be banned from this forum for calling the pandemic what it is, I will just refer to it as "the virus"... THE VIRUS has not presented a danger to anyone that is more so than the common flu or cold, with the exception for the elderly and those with diabetes, asthma, or cardiovascular disease. There is no reason for our government to regulate the movements and actions of EVERYONE. Those that are vulnerable need to be quarantined and kept away from others. I should not have to change my life to protect a very very small minority of people. @vargha - couldn't agree with your post more. Too bad all the lemmings don't do some actual thinking and make the right decisions... unfortunately intelligence is a gift to a minority of people, and that explains why there are so many liberals living in our society.

exwannabe October 21, 2020

This is a pile of , ... Air travel today is less stressful than it has been in years. No TSA lines. No worry about middle seats or COS next to you. Last time I entered the US it was littteraly less than a one minute delay to get through customs. Have to change a flight? No fee. People are not flying because there are few places to go. Business? Zoom, Teem or Skype. Vacation? Where?