Why millennials aren’t flying anymore

Aviation blogger Robert Prestipino may not have a broad view of the domestic travel industry, but he does know that a growing number of people have stopped flying. “I am getting feedback from people on my site that say, ‘I’m not going to fly anymore. I’m avoiding airports and avoiding flying,’ ” he told me.

Prestipino, who created the site The Cheapskate Traveler in 2011, started getting feedback from his readers about two years ago when he started noticing a trend. “I was getting people on my site in my early 20s and in their late 20s saying, ‘I don’t plan on flying. I don’t want to have to pay $150 for an airport to get somewhere.’ “

From 2008 to 2012, Prestipino’s traffic on his site (totaling some 54,000 unique visits a month) doubled, before it tripled in 2014. “I still have not hit my millionth visitor, but I’m getting closer,” he says.

As a result, airlines are offering discount flights aimed at millennials. A senior manager at United Airlines said that the airlines’ low-fare initiative has been hugely successful, especially in boosting the number of younger customers who are jetting off on leisure. “These customers tend to be younger—between 18 and 25—and they make up 25 percent of our leisure business,” the manager told Bloomberg. “Their buying power has grown enormously in that time.”

In addition to those on-paper benefits, Prestipino cites another beneficial reason people are staying home. “As a believer that cellphones have broken a lot of our patience, I’m much more likely to stay home for a longer period of time on a vacation,” he said. “And with companies including free Wi-Fi and wi-fi sharing options, an online queue to check baggage, and free or cheap taxi rides to the airport, most consumers are eager to avoid all those factors as well.”

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Not so, according to Huffington Post Travel editor Lauren Austin. While an increasing number of millennials might be avoiding airplane travel for their on-paper perks, Austin thinks they’ll reconsider in the future, as they’re actually getting more experience than their elders.

“In fact, I’ve actually been surprised that more millennials haven’t used their credit cards to purchase an upgrade,” Austin says. “This is a big opportunity for them.”

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