When it comes to a good travel experience, the most important ingredient is comfort, according to a new survey from Collinson, ‘Love the Journey’. Comfort is prioritised by 81% of travellers in India, greatly out-ranking other factors such as value for money (70%) and efficiency (52%). The survey, which will be released in its entirety later in the year, examines traveller wellbeing among more than 25,000 participants globally.

In IATA’s recently released 20-year air passenger forecast, India will displace the UK to be the third largest aviation market with 278 million passengers in 2026. More passengers mean bigger crowds and more stringent security requirements, adding up to longer queues and greater potential for disruption. These factors could be why travellers are increasingly prioritising comfort over more functional concerns such as cost and efficiency.

Travellers crave comfort so much that they are increasingly willing to pay for additional benefits to help them secure it. The top two upgrade options are airport lounge access (41%), and extra legroom on the plane (32%).

Priyanka Lakhani, Regional Commercial Director, Middle East, Africa and India at Collinson said, “With the recent Union Budget announcement that India is underway to introduce 100 new airports by 2024, it has never been more important to understand what a passenger wants from their pre-flight, airport experience. Expectations of the passenger journey are rapidly evolving with them demanding as seamless, comfortable and enjoyable a journey as possible. As these new facilities are being developed, they’ll no doubt offer best in class dining as well as superior lounge experiences. Findings from some of Collinson’s previous research highlighted that 86% of travellers in India enjoy the airport experience, compared to the 63% global average satisfaction level1. It’s an exciting time for aviation in general but in particular in India where, with this new investment, there are a whole host of opportunities to delight the passenger, and ensure they love their journey as soon as they set foot in the airport”.

Christopher Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson said:
“For a long time, people have focused their attention on the destination, but we want people to get excited about the journey as a whole. Travel can be so much more than just a way of getting from A to B, and the industry needs to help travelers see this.”
“The competition to optimise and monetise the traveller journey is already heating up. The challenge and opportunity for travel benefit providers and airports is to understand where their propositions fit into the millions of unique travel journeys we see each day, and how they can positively impact travellers both in the moment and throughout the broader end-to-end experience.”

“We also know that people are willing to pay, and are often impatient for, improved experiences. This is a trend we are seeing in society as a whole with the growth of the subscription economy, where people are choosing to pay individually for things they may once have waited to earn through a loyalty programme.”

“There have never been so many opportunities for travellers to sit back and enjoy the journey, from airport lounges and shopping experiences, through to spa facilities and food-delivery-to-gate services. However, our research has made it clear that above all else, people crave a journey that’s comfortable. In order to provide this, the industry has to figure out how to work effectively as part of a complex ecosystem of providers, keeping a focus on the customer and the experience. This means working collaboratively to put the love of the journey front and centre.”

Collinson will shortly be announcing the winners of its annual “Priority Pass Lounge of the Year” awards, which recognises the airport lounges providing the most exceptional travel experiences. The winner is decided based on Priority Pass member reviews, providing further insight into how the world’s best lounges are going above and beyond to build more comfort into travellers’ journeys.