What’s important to your flight booking selection?

I’ve talked a lot about how I choose flights and how the industry trends seem to shift as well. But until last week I cannot remember ever receiving a survey which let me actually assign values to the different factors, both for relative value and priority of the various options. There were eight total options and 100 points to be assigned. It looked like this:


The eight categories are:

  • Price
  • Terminal
  • Date/time
  • Familiarity with the airline
  • Legroom
  • Loyalty points
  • Upgrades
  • Customer service

By a huge margin fare and then day/time still win for me. I may have over-voted on the fare component above as I will pay extra in certain circumstances for other benefits, but it is still the starting point of my purchasing decisions almost every time. On the other end of the spectrum, upgrades got a zero from me. I really just don’t care, especially for domestic travel.

Even frequent flyer points come as an afterthought in many ways, with personal comfort on board more important to me. But I look at the general comfort levels, not assuming an upgrade.

How do you rate the above categories? Is there one you care strongly about? A combination which differs wildly from mine?

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Very interesting and I’m surprised to see a few things didn’t even make it onto their list of options. Time of day and fare are both important to me, but so is total transit time (connections and routing) and personal “statistics”/experience on irrops. After all that, I start to look at other factors like loyalty points or legroom but frankly the above criteria usually chooses my option far before I get to that point.

  2. Can anyone who maintains 1K really say with a straight face they only care 10% about frequent flier miles? I only plan to maintain Platinum on UA this year but FF miles still get at least 25-33% for me.

    1. I certainly can.

      I consider miles, but only after fare and schedule come into play. And I flew ~195k miles last year so getting 100k PQMs and still flying many other airlines isn’t too hard.

  3. I think there should be 2 categories. Short-haul and long-hail.
    I would not care about the upgrades and legroom or miles for the matter for short-hail, but they would be extremely important for long-haul flights.

  4. i usually prefer friday evening flight out and sunday noon-afternoon departure, so i guess for me date/time comes first before price … unless price is ridiculous

    #3 would be loyalty points

    customer service is rock bottom on my list since all domestic US economy stinks no matter what you fly

  5. Price of flight is pretty high for me, generally – probably around 50%.

    Day and time will vary depending on the situation. For a summer vacation where I have wide latitude on when to go, it means little. For Thanksgiving where I have a limited window to fit in, much more important, for example.

    FF miles would either be just above, or just below Day/Time. Customer service and my opinion of the airline’s quality of hard & soft product (as opposed to familiarity, per se) would be about equal to FF miles.

    I can’t say that terminal amenities are very high – only in some situations (such as expecting a long layover or need for lounge access, or decent meal options).

    Upgrades mean nothing to me, and legroom is only a consideration for long-haul or with certain airlines or configurations (being on the shorter side sometimes has an advantage!)

  6. I fly mostly international to issues around having to connect, particularly is hubs that are prone to issues (ORD, EWR) are a red flag for me. I am willing to pay more for a ticket but only within reason.

  7. It depends for me. If it’s business travel, day/time are easily king, price is secondary, then miles and legroom. If family travel, price is king, followed by day/time, legroom. Miles is less of a consideration as all my family travel has been on awards the last few years.

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