30% of air travelers flock to jet-set apps and mobile devices


NEW YORK — Apps and mobile devices are increasingly becoming tools for savvy air travelers, according to a new survey that showed nearly half of all fliers use them to check the status of flights.

Thirty percent of air passengers are now using smartphones to check in, up from 17 percent last year, and more than one in four consider their iPad or tablet a must-have on the plane.

“As air travel becomes more stressful, fliers flock to mobile technology,” Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights, said in a statement, adding the devices enable travelers to create a more enjoyable flying experience.

The TripAdvisor poll of more than 1,000 travelers also showed that most passengers, 76 percent, have no interest in chatting or socializing while in the air and 40 percent would pay more to sit in a designated quiet area.

And although more people are planning to fly this year — both domestically and internationally — compared to 2011, nearly a quarter said there isn’t one thing they enjoy about flying.

Insufficient leg room and uncomfortable seating were among the biggest passenger gripes. Most travelers said they would not pay extra for more space on short flights, but 35 percent said more legroom would be worth an additional US$25 on flights lasting more than four hours.

Frequent flyer programs were a big plus for more than half of travelers and 15 percent described the perk as the most enjoyable thing about flying.

Only 20 percent of passengers order an alcoholic drink, and 42 percent of those who do opt for wine, according to the poll. May, October and September were the most popular months to fly, and Orlando International Airport in Florida was voted the favorite U.S. airport.