Why do most business travelers prefer to drive?
tl;dr: 3 out of 4 Americans actually prefer driving over flying.
With all the innovations in aviation, you’d think that most people would enjoy flying. But a recent article in the New York Post reveals that 3 out of 4 Americans actually prefer driving over flying, and that they would happily add 6 hours onto a trip if it meant they could avoid the airport. If you find this surprising, you’re not alone.
But when you stop to think about it, there are a lot of advantages to driving rather than flying. Let’s break them down.
Driving can be less stressful. No long lines at security, no delays (except for maybe traffic), and much roomier seats. These are all things that make driving much less stressful than flying. Add to that being able to blast music or podcasts and stop for food or a break whenever you need to, and you’ve got a pretty enjoyable trip.
Driving is easier to schedule. When you’re flying you are relying on the airline’s schedule and choosing from their departure and arrival times. In 2018, domestic flights were delayed 19.4% of the time, with an average delay of 66 minutes. It makes sense that business travelers would prefer to have control over their schedule and leave when it’s more convenient for them.
Driving allows you to hit multiple places more easily. Have two meetings in Boston and then another in Hartford? Maybe a fourth in New York City, too? It’s easy to plan out how you can hit each one by driving without being at the mercy of the airline’s schedule.
Driving means you can pack what you want. It’s become the norm for airlines to charge for checked bags, and with the rising popularity of basic economy, sometimes you even have to pay for a carry-on. When you drive, you aren’t restricted to one tiny suitcase, you can bring whatever you want for no extra cost.
Driving is easier for short trips. According to Skift, the most common length of a business trip in 2017 was 1-2 nights, with a day trip as a close second. Flying can be a long and stressful process, and going through all of that to turn around and do it again in 24 hours is not ideal. It’s much easier to drive for those shorter trips and eliminate the extra stress that comes with navigating airport security twice in such a short amount of time.
More people have a fear of flying than a fear of driving. We all know the statistics that you’re much more likely to be involved in a car crash than a plane crash, but that doesn’t take away the fear that up to 6.5% of Americans feel every year towards flying. Driving allows you to feel more like you are in control of the situation and control is a huge factor in aviophobia (fear of flying).
Of course some people absolutely love to fly and more power to them! There are plenty of pros to flying (accruing miles and shorter overall travel time to name a few) but the facts don’t lie and driving is definitely the preferred method of transportation for business travelers.