What Exactly Makes Travelers Happy? TripIt’s New Study Has The Answers

By Kelsey Marie


Travel has become such a normal part of many people’s lives that we often go through the motions without thinking about what actually makes us happy while in flight. Everyone has their own preferences but in general, travelers have come to develop certain expectations while flying. 

This is why TripIt conducted a happy travelers report investigating what specifically makes people happy while flying. 

TripIt’s third installment takes a look at over a million flight ratings (ranging from 1- to 5-stars) over the span of a year and formulates the conclusion of what actually makes travelers happy. 

Here’s what the happy travelers’ report has to say:

Duration Of Flight

Most travelers reported being happy during flights lasting less than three hours (4.34 out of 5 stars). However, it’s long-haul flights, lasting 12 hours or more, ranked higher with a 4.35-star average.

Photo courtesy of TripIt

The happiest flight was found to be the 17-hour+ flight departing from Dallas, Texas and landing in Sydney, Australia (4.6 stars). “Whether it is higher quality entertainment systems or better meals or just a happier crew, ultra-long-haul flying does come with some benefits compared to the shorter hops more commonly seen,” reports Seth Miller, a passenger experience expert. 

Top 10 International Routes by Flight Rating

RankRouteCities ServedDurationRating
1DFW-SYDDallas/Fort Worth – Sydney17:204.60
2JFK-DXBNew York – Dubai12:254.57
3ORD-NRTChicago – Tokyo13:204.56
4BOS-MUCBoston – Munich7:304.55
5LAX-TPELos Angeles – Taipei14:354.52
6JFK-SJUNew York – San Juan*3:504.51
7LAX-HNDLos Angeles – Tokyo11:404.51
8ATL-SJUAtlanta – San Juan*3:354.50
9SFO-AKLSan Francisco – Auckland12:504.49
10LAX-AKLLos Angeles – Auckland12:554.48
* US

Time Of Year That You’re Traveling

It turns out that the season you’re traveling in has a big effect on happy you are. One would think summer would be the season with the happiest travelers but it’s actually at the start of the year, in January. 

Photo courtesy of TripIt

TripIt found that travelers flying in January are 39 percent happier than those traveling in June. 

Amenities Included During Flight

Travel expert Lee Abbamonte says, “Travelers expect certain amenities to be baked-in with their fare prices. When one of those amenities fails to deliver on the expected value, traveler happiness takes a nosedive.”

When thinking of what personally makes you happy during a flight, amenities such as the comfort of your seat, food/beverage options, entertainment, Wi-Fi and service comes into play. 

Photo courtesy of TripIt

According to TripIt’s study, high-quality Wi-Fi and entertainment aren’t the top priorities for traveler’s happiness. Having comfortable seating is 6X more impactful than having Wi-Fi and good service is 2.7X more of a priority than having good food and beverage options. 

The Type Of Ticket You Have

Of course first class had happier travelers overall but what was surprising was travelers who traveled basic economy (4.35 stars) were more happy on their flights than those in regular economy (4.24 stars). Overall, those who fly on discount carriers are the happiest, with a 4.5-star rating. 

Photo courtesy of TripIt

The reason why so many travelers are happier on economy flights is that the service exceeded their expectations when considering the price of the flight. 

Arrival Airports

65 airports in the U.S. were analyzed and it was found that travelers prefer landing in alternate airports than major metro airports when flying domestically. 

Photo courtesy of TripIt

Top 10 Domestic Arrival Airports by Flight Rating

1DALDallas Love, TX4.53
2HOUHouston, TX4.50
3BURBurbank, CA4.49
4OAKOakland, CA4.48
5MCIKansas City, MO4.48
6MDWChicago, IL4.47
7ONTOntario, CA4.46
8SMFSacramento, CA4.45
9SATSan Antonio, TX4.45
10PDXPortland, OR4.44

When flying internationally, travelers prefer stunning airports with high-quality service, amazing architecture and advanced technology. 

Top 10 International Arrival Airports by Flight Rating

2TPETaipeiTaiwan – Chiang Kai Shek4.37
3NRTTokyoJapan – Narita4.34
4AKLAucklandNew Zealand4.30
5HNDTokyoJapan – Haneda4.28
6ICNSeoulSouth Korea – Incheon International4.27
8DXBDubaiUnited Arab Emirates4.26
10BNEBrisbaneAustralia 4.23
Travel Noire

Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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