Half (49%) of UAE residents experience FOSO: The Fear of Switching Off. That’s according to new global research from Priority Pass – the original and market-leading airport experiences programme, owned and operated by Collinson – who surveyed 8,500 people across 11 countries and found that one in three people globally (34%) find it difficult to truly switch off from everyday life while on their travels.

Travellers out of the UAE are among the least likely to disconnect from digital devices while on vacation, when compared globally. More than half (58%) admit to finding it hard to reduce the amount of time spent on their phone while away, which rises to 61% for just millennials. The same amount (57%) struggle to stop checking work-related enquiries, and just over a quarter (28%) of UAE travellers check their phone every 30 minutes or less – that is 10% more often than the global average.

With travel once again on a resurgent ascent, Priority Pass asked respondents what was causing FOSO and holding them back from experiencing the true benefits of travel. Globally, more than 6 in 10 (62%) travellers said that pre-flight issues often initiate FOSO but can be subsided by some airport services.

Half (53%) of global travellers feel that visiting an airport lounge has improved how they have been able to switch off during previous travels. This compares to 50% of UAE travellers, who also agree that shopping in duty free (51%) and experiencing food and beverage (41%) are also the most effective ways to switch off pre-flight.

The airport experience has fast become a leading barometer for how well people can relax or enjoy their trip. However, data also suggests the pre-flight experience can be a valuable place to tackle FOSO. According to 74% of UAE respondents, tackling FOSO ahead of travelling could significantly benefit their overall wellbeing. Of those that have already enjoyed the airport lounge experience, (70%) of all people believe that visiting one would have a beneficial impact on how they switch off for the remainder of their trip.

“We all know that being able to switch off and get away from the stress of every day is more important than ever. That is why so many are turning to travel. However, our research shows that FOSO is real. We want to ensure people can unwind and relax from the start of their journey and create memorable experiences” said Christopher Evans, CEO of Collinson International.

“We remain agile to changing travel trends to ensure we are always innovating our range of premium experiences and providing offerings which go beyond the airport lounge. From pre-booking airport transfers and lounge access to visiting sleeping pods, gaming lounges, and spa experiences, we are evolving our portfolio worldwide to ensure travellers can switch off at every point of the journey.”

“For some, ‘that holiday feeling’ associated with travelling begins long before arriving at the airport. However, our study tells us that this is not often the case. That is why we have done a deep dive to understand the differing behaviours and attitudes of travellers globally. We want to make every step of the travel journey seamless, stress-free, and enjoyable and continue to tailor our offering to help Priority Pass members combat FOSO when travelling,” added Priyanka Lakhani, Senior Vice President, Commercial, EMEA

Despite best efforts to relax and switch off during their travels, many travellers find themselves drawn back to their devices after a brief period. With more than a third (37%) of UAE travellers initially disconnecting, they soon feel compelled to check back in with home. As a result, Priority Pass asked respondents to build the perfect FOSO-free trip. Travellers in the UAE said that the best type of travel to switch off is a trip to the beach – followed by a city break, safari, or camping trip. The ideal time to go away is 1 week. Women say that shopping in duty free is their favourite pre-flight airport experience but for men, it is visiting a lounge.

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