Survey: Few tickets sold on airline sites

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- Internet users are going to airline Web sites for information, but fewer than a third have purchased a ticket on one, according to an airline-sponsored survey conducted by NPD Online Research.

Of those surveyed, however, 60% said they will buy a ticket on an airline site in the future, NPD said.

NPD said it polled more than 13,000 visitors to the American, Canadian Airlines, Continental, TWA and United sites in a survey sponsored by those companies.

Of those polled, men were "significantly" more likely than women to have visited a Web site and to have purchased a ticket on line there.

Experienced Web users, defined as those who have been on line for two or more years, and experienced travelers, defined as those who have taken six or more flights in the past year, also were significantly more likely than other visitors to have purchased a ticket on line, NPD said.

Of those polled, almost 70% were experienced Web users, defined as those with more than two years' experience on line, NPD said.

Most airline-site users, 59%, are between the ages of 25 and 44 and have an average household income of $93,000. Nearly 75% have graduated from college or completed higher education, NPD said.

The survey also found that 70% of the airline-site visitors frequently visit travel-related Web sites, with 45% of the users visiting a travel site at least once a week, NPD said.

NPD said the survey found that consumer satisfaction with airline sites is "moderate."

Positive opinions of the five airline sites ranged from 58% to 78%, and excellent ratings ranged from 11% to 25%.

The most important ingredient in an airline site, according to the survey, is up-to-date information.

Other important factors are well-organized information, accurate and relevant search results and ease of use, the survey said.

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