Data shows shift to premium travel

The rise of the ultra-low cost airline has given way to the rise of the… well… airline. Internet searches for “cheap flights” have been in steady decline, even as the low cost sector continues to increase. Meanwhile, searches for “business class” and “premium economy” have experienced impressive increases.

Interestingly, global search volumes for premium travel offerings have increased over the same period. Indexing volumes to January 2019 shows that interest in “Business class” and “Premium economy” have recovered beyond 2019 levels, while interest in “Cheap flights” continues its decline.

Of course, it could be that there just aren’t anymore cheap flights available for which to search. #inflation2023 But, the decline has been consistent and long coming. Does this mean the world’s travelers are no longer interested in saving money to travel? Not at all. In fact, total search volumes for “cheap flights” remains triple the next highest class – business.

But the internet search trend is pointing more toward premium options. That online interest is not equal around the globe. Singapore and Australia both top the lists of countries making premium airfare searches per capita. Which makes sense. The two countries have historic airlines focused on long-haul premium service.

This remains a very inexact science, subject to a plethora of caveats. First, it relies on the English language. For countries where business class or premium economy is called something else, well, it will be called something else. Another challenge is that the global jetsetter has learned better ways to search for cheap flights other than simply typing in “cheap flights.”

Regardless the shift away from explicitly cheap flights, the shift to premium options certainly aligns with booking trends.

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