New National Survey Reveals High Cost of Airfare Deters 75% of Americans From International Travel

International Travel Tops Consumer Lifetime “Bucket List”

Washington DC, October 14, 2014—Globalization gives Americans access to information and goods from countries around the world, but with the rising costs of airfare, it’s increasingly more difficult for them to experience different cultures first-hand. A new Omnibus national consumer survey conducted by Kelton, a global consumer insights firm, commissioned by Norwegian Air International (NAI), finds that the vast majority of Americans are eager to explore new places – and would jump at the chance to travel internationally – if they weren’t prevented by financial reasons. The survey results confirm that pricey flights prevent many would-be world travelers from going abroad as often as they’d like.

In fact, air transportation is a more important factor even than finding a hotel when traveling. Factors like low fares, nonstop options, and convenient routes even trump quality onboard service, and frequent flyer programs when choosing an airline carrier for travel abroad.

“Consumers are looking for low-fare, convenient, route-to-route options and see the cost of airfare as the single biggest factor in realizing their aspirations of seeing the world,” says Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian. “If afforded the opportunity, Norwegian Air International is committed to helping Americans overcome this obstacle by providing them with rates that, aren’t just competitive, but strikingly under-cutting the existing industry standard fares.”

Sky-High Hopes

When the possibilities are endless, Americans imagine traveling internationally. The survey revealed that the most popular “lifetime bucket list item” is to travel internationally (60%) – with more women citing this response vs. men (66% vs. 55%), and a larger proportion of the millennial generation (18-34) than older (35+) generations (68% vs. 57%).

Grounded: The high cost of airfare has kept many at home

It seems that for many Americans, financial issues stood in the way of being able to accomplish goals in 2014 and, unfortunately, most Americans aren’t always able to fulfill their passion for traveling abroad. Nearly 9-in-10 (87%) of those surveyed admit something has stopped them from traveling internationally in the past, with the No. 1 deterrent being the high cost of airfare (75%).

In fact, when planning a trip, consumers reveal that the price of the flight is the primary consideration and the first thing that nearly 4-in-10 (36%) check when planning a trip, which is significantly more than those who check the price of a hotel (7%).

Deal Maker or Breaker

Those who have traveled internationally know what matters most when it comes to selecting the right airline, with 59% responding that low prices are more important than any other factor when selecting an airline for international travel, followed by available nonstop flights (54%) or convenient routes and schedules (53%).

For the price they pay, flyers demand the right treatment. International airline travelers also consider whether the airline has quality customer service (45%) and quality onboard service (37%).

Breaking Free

Looking to the year ahead, more than 4-in-5 (84%) of consumers are intent to finally achieve their travel goals. Nearly 7-in-10 (67%) of these goal-setters want to travel in 2015, with a higher percentage from consumers 55+ versus those 18-54 (78% vs. 63%). In addition, more from the West (72%) or Northeast (69%) would like to travel more frequently in 2015 than in the Midwest (66%) or South (63%).

Kjos adds, “Norwegian already provides options to cater to consumers flying between the U.S and Scandinavian countries and will add even more choices when Norwegian Air International flights are approved for routes to and from Europe, helping to fulfill the consumer’s desire to see the world.”

In fact, travel is a more popular option than paying off debt (57%), visiting family or friends (41%), attending more events, such as concerts or theater performances (33%), updating their wardrobe (25%), or taking up a new hobby (13%).

A Prize Idea

A block of 46 million Americans say travel is the first thing they would do if they won the lottery. Surprisingly, only slightly more Americans would use the money for something that is more tangible or long-term, like buying a new house or car (27%), or making investments (26%). And, more men than women (33% vs. 19%) would first invest their lottery winnings.

Broadening Horizons

More than 8-in-10 (84%) Americans would like to travel internationally more often for multiple reasons including to visit a new place (81%), experience a new culture (63%), meet new people (28%), or learn another language (14%).
For many, their desire comes from wanting to leave something behind. Nearly 2-in-5 look forward to traveling as a way to escape their daily routine (38%). In fact, more than 1-in-5 (22%) Americans even have it in their minds to live in a different country one day.

Enjoying the Journey

More than 7-in-10 (71%) Americans who have flown on an airplane enjoy some aspect of the experience. Nearly half (45%) of them like the sky-high views, while nearly one-third stated that being in an airplane is welcomed time to catch up on reading, TV shows or movies (33%), or just be alone (30%).

Over 2-in-5 appreciate flying because it’s an excuse to disconnect, such as be offline or unreachable (23%), or even take a nap in the middle of the day (17%). And, just sitting next to a stranger on a plane can be pleasurable with nearly 1-in-5 (18%) revealing that they enjoy meeting someone new when flying.

Norwegian Air International

Norwegian Air International (NAI) – a low cost airline from Europe – has been seeking entry into the U.S. marketplace with new services responding to the traveling public and what they want and indeed, deserve: superior customer service, affordable fares, point-to-point service between the US and Europe, and all-new Boeing aircraft. NAI applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation over eight months ago for permission to operate trans-Atlantic flights to the United States, and the carrier is still awaiting approval.

Omnibus Survey Overview

The national Omnibus survey was conducted by Kelton online in October 2014 among 1,006 nationally representative Americans ages 18+ with a 3.1% margin of error. Kelton is a leading global consumer insights and research platform firm serving as a partner to more than 100 of the Fortune 500 and thousands of smaller companies and organizations. To learn more about Kelton go to

Media Contact
Jennifer Quermann