To Sit Back and Relax or Sit Back and Work During a Flight?


Once upon a time, people would dress up before getting on an airplane. On board, flight attendants would serve complimentary meals with real silverware. Playing cards would be handed out to passengers to help pass the time. While much has changed since then – gone are the meals, the silverware, and the dress clothes – relaxing, be it with a deck of cards or otherwise, is still the preferred activity for business travelers on board an airplane.

Of course, now the cards are most likely a phone or tablet version of solitaire, but more than one-half of all business travelers (51 percent) still prefer to use their flight time to unwind and relax – be it reading, watching a movie or doing something other than work. All those years of captains telling passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight have been embraced by and large by business travelers, according to the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express.

The number who prefer not to work in-flight is even higher for business travelers in Japan and Australia where 61 and 60 percent, respectively, prefer leisure activities. Baby Boomers are the most likely age group to prefer relaxing on an airplane, with 57 percent saying that is how they prefer to spend their flight time.

What about the 49 percent of business travelers who prefer to work during flights? For them, there is room for improvement. When it comes to working onboard, lack of in-seat power outlets is the biggest hindrance to inflight productivity. Seventy-two percent say too few outlets contribute at least some to their inability to get work done, followed by 68 percent who say seat size, 67 percent citing tray table size, and 65 percent claiming lack of adequate USB outlets hinder their ability to get work done in-flight.

Overall, business travelers’ satisfaction with air travel increased from 2015 to 2016, from 64 percent satisfied to 69 percent. This high satisfaction with air travel is even more impressive given that the element of business travel with the least satisfaction is getting through airport security.

Despite the seismic changes in the airline industry in recent years, business travelers still seem to enjoy their air travel experiences – and many are using the time in the air to unwind and relax.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar on September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.

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