According to a new study, more than half (53%) of travellers say the airport is sometime to be enjoyed, with 56% admitting that they would be encouraged to arrive at the airport early to take advantage of duty free and shopping discounts.

The study – conducted by Priority Pass, the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program -asked almost 3,000 respondents in the UK, UAE, USA, Germany, France, Singapore and Hong Kong about their attitudes when it comes to the airport.

The survey sheds new light on the behaviours of consumers at the airport. Two thirds of respondents (64%) said that they like to access a bargain at the airport, with 35% looking for something luxurious that they would not ordinarily buy. The latter reinforces previous identification of an emerging group of travellers, ‘The Conspicuous Consumer’, keen to show their status, seeking luxury at affordable prices and keen to share their exclusive experiences with friends.

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Stephen Simpson, Global Marketing Director for Priority Pass, commented: “We are witnessing an important shift in mind-set when it comes to the airport experience and it is clear that today’s frequent flyers no longer view themselves as passengers merely transiting the airport, but as consumers seeking more rewarding travel journeys.”

The airport does not simply provide an opportune moment for last minute shopping, however, with 59% of frequent business flyers saying access to a premium airport lounge is an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor when selecting an airport. 40% even admit to going straight to an airport lounge and avoiding the shops altogether.

Simpson added: “An increasing number of organisations are starting to recognise the value that can be gained if the experience of flying for business is not unduly stressful. Our research found that 51% of frequent business flyers actively enjoy the airport experience.

This is a high percentage when you consider the fact that the business flyer is traveling for work purposes and does not have the relaxation of a typical leisure trip to look forward to on arrival. The airport lounge clearly has an important role to play here, offering a rare moment of tranquillity or the ability to stay connected in a peaceful and convenient environment.”

Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 2

Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 2

Separate research carried out by Priority Pass surveyed the world’s most affluent consumers and confirmed the rise of the ‘digital’ flyer. Half of European travellers (50%) believe that digital boarding passes and e-tickets make the airport experience much easier, with 24% of travellers using airport mobile apps; a figure that rises to 41% of frequent business flyers.

With more and more airlines and airports adopting the latest technological innovations, there is clearly a growing impetus to provide a seamless digital experience at airports, thus reducing the stress of travel and providing a more personalised and intuitive passenger experience.

Do you enjoy speeding time at the airport before your flight, or is it more of a bothersome necessity? And do you support the digitisation of the airport experience or do you prefer a physical boarding pass, for example? Let us know in the comments.