With just 4% of people making their last journey to an airport by coach, a campaign has been launched to “break the stigma” around this form of travel.

The poor perception of airport coach travel has been blamed for preventing more passengers from using sustainable modes of transport when going to and from an airport.

Research by the independent watchdog Transport Focus said that one third of people believed that coaches were often uncomfortable, dirty or old. More than half described them as infrequent and often delayed by traffic or roadworks.

At a recent summit hosted by Heathrow airport, leaders from the transport industry including coach operators and the Department for Transport pledged to do more to make coach travel more appealing.

Sustainable travel option

Despite strong levels of passenger satisfaction among coach travellers, awareness of this option as a cost effective and reliable way to travel remains desperately low.

The five-point action plan includes the use of technology to boost the visibility of coach journey information, as well as publication of performance data to inform consumer choice.

More work will be done to promote coach travel as a value for money, sustainable option compared with other forms of long-distance travel. The coach industry will step up efforts to challenge current misconceptions, as well as work more closely with airports and airlines.

Coach travel perceptions

The research found that the majority of people travelled by car to the airport the last time they flew, with 35% parking at the airport, 18% being dropped off and 19% getting a taxi. Scheduled coach services accounted for just 4%, compared with 13% taking a train.

Perceptions of coach travel are frequently driven by isolated and long ago experiences, such as one off journeys or school trips and private coach hire.

Transport Focus director David Sidebottom said: “It’s time to break the stigma around coach travel and to promote this travel option as the savvy consumer choice.”

Aviation minister Liz Sugg added: “It is clear that misconceptions need to be overcome so that coach travel is seen as a genuine alternative to the car.”

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