Drip pricing — a term for the drip-drip of price increases that result from companies advertising only part of a product’s price and revealing other charges later in the purchasing process — affects how Americans buy tickets for flights, concerts, and even movies. Airline passengers often pay significantly more than the initial quoted price once taxes, baggage fees, and other add-ons are included. By the time the final price is revealed at the end of the purchasing process, many buyers have already mentally committed to completing the purchase and will pay the additional cost whether they want to or not.
A recent YouGov poll asked Americans about their experiences with price increases during the buying process and whether they would support a law requiring airlines to show the total price of a ticket upfront. About one-quarter (28%) of U.S. adult citizens end up paying more than initially quoted for their online flight tickets always or most of the time, while another 16% sometimes pay more than the initial price. Those shares are even higher among online ticket buyers, because 30% of Americans never shop for flight tickets online.
Experiences with drip pricing are similar for other kinds of tickets, with at least about one in five Americans paying more than the price they were initially shown always or most of the time for each of the following: concerts (29%), sporting events (24%), and movies (20%).
Most Americans (59%) think it is very or somewhat important that they pay no more than the initial price they are shown when purchasing flight tickets online. Smaller but still substantial shares of Americans feel paying no more than the initial price for movie (51%), concert (51%), and sports (41%) tickets is very or somewhat important.
Americans with higher incomes are more likely to care about price transparency. While 73% of Americans with family incomes of $100,000 or more think it is very or somewhat important that they pay no more than the initial price for flight tickets, only 56% of Americans with lower family incomes feel the same. There are similar income-based differences for movie, flight, and concert tickets.
These differences are at least partially driven by wealthier Americans being more likely to purchase tickets online. Only 14% of Americans with family incomes over $100,000 never shop for flight tickets online, compared to 26% with family incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 and 37% with family incomes less than $50,000.
Most Americans (86%) strongly or somewhat support a law requiring airlines to show the total price of a ticket upfront, while only 7% oppose such a law. Similarly, 67% oppose a law allowing airlines to advertise only the base ticket price while excluding taxes and fees, and only 20% support this law.
Americans who recently have purchased tickets on a commercial airline flight are no more likely to support price transparency than are Americans who have not. Instead, Americans who last bought a flight ticket within the last month (84%) are slightly less likely to support a transparency law than are Americans who last purchased flights within the last year (89%), the past five years (89%), or more than five years ago (92%). A similar pattern applies for a law that goes in the other direction on price transparency: Americans who have purchased tickets recently are just as likely as Americans who have not to oppose a law allowing airlines to only advertise base ticket prices.
Americans who have never purchased a flight ticket are the least likely to support a price transparency law (71%) and least likely to oppose a law allowing the advertising of only base prices (54%). For both laws, Americans who never have purchased flight tickets also are more likely to answer "not sure" than are Americans who have purchased flight tickets before.
Methodology: The YouGov poll was conducted online on July 6 - 9, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. For both polls, the sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample also was weighted by baseline party identification, which is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.
Image: Adobe Stock (Chanyanuch)