Airline passengers embrace self-connection

According to OAG’s most recent report, “Self-Connection: The Rise and Roadblocks of a Growing Travel Booking Strategy,” 40 percent of U.S. travellers are bypassing typical booking practices, such as through an airline, travel agency or OTA, and are beginning to self-connect when they travel.

Self-connecting passengers are defined as those that book separate tickets to fly from City A to City C, via City B.

Already popular in Europe, self-connecting is beginning to increase in popularity in the U.S. market as passengers look to save money. Passengers can mix and match airlines in order to score the best deal or connect through a city they would like to visit on the way to their final destination. But what are some of the roadblocks and challenges to successfully self-connect, and how can airlines or airports make this process easier?

OAG surveyed more than 2,900 OAG flightview® mobile app users to discover current traveller behavior and gauge sentiment when it comes to self-connection. Some findings from the survey include:

  • 92% of travellers are willing to self-connect under the right circumstances.
  • 37% of all travellers are willing to wait more than four hours on a layover in order to save $200. For millennials, that number jumps to 55%.
  • 31% of travelers are more likely to self-connect through a city they’d like to visit.
  • 55% of travelers cite missing a connecting flight and not being rebooked automatically by the airline as their top fear when self-connecting.

Domestically, this seems to work and gives Alaska Airlines a little more presence in the market. But what about internationally? Alaska Airlines has code sharing agreements with more than a dozen airlines including Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air and Qantas. With the interline relationship with Delta winding down, there is clearly an opportunity here for Alaska Airlines to consider new or strengthened relationships with Asian carriers. Certainly if Hainan were looking for new routes to serve to America’s west coast, the link with Alaska is looking good.

This also prompts the assessment of Alaska Airlines' new deal with Virgin America - analysis can be found here.

As consumer preferences change in order to save money on air travel costs, airports and airlines may need to rethink their approach with this particular segment of traveller. How will this new trend in booking affect customer retention and loyalty rates? Will new partnerships need to be created or will new ancillary services need to be offered to maintain customer satisfaction?

To read more findings from the survey and learn how airlines and airports can capitalise on this shift in consumer travel preferences, download the latest report below.

Download our latest whitepaper

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