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On short flights, Americans are tight-fisted on airline food, drinks and roomy seats

On short flights, Americans are tight-fisted on airline food, drinks and roomy seats
Americans and Canadians are among the most tight fisted spenders on airlines, while Mexican travelers are more willing to splurge while traveling, a new survey says. Above, food and wine are served in Delta's Business Eite cabin during a flight. (Delta Airlines)

Americans are ready to tough it out on a cramped flight without food or drinks.

But if the flight stretches to seven to 12 hours, Americans start to crack open their wallets for food, extra legroom and booze, according to a new survey that looked at the spending habits of travelers across the globe.

The survey by the travel giant Expedia questioned more than 11,000 travelers from 22 countries.

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Overall, the study found, Canadian travelers are among the least willing to part with their dollars while on a plane. American travelers are almost as tight-fisted with their money as the Canadians but Mexican travelers are much freer with their pesos, the survey found.

On a short-haul flight, 15% of Americans are willing to pay for a full meal, compared with 26% of travelers worldwide, according to the survey. On a short-haul flight, 45% of Chinese travelers are happy to pay for a full meal.

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But once the flights reach seven to 12 hours, Americans start to spend, with 49% of U.S. travelers saying they would pay for a full meal, 41% saying they would pay for extra legroom and 20% willing to buy an alcoholic drink.

By comparison, 65% of Mexican travelers would pay for a full meal on a long flight, 55% would pay for extra legroom and 28% would pay for an alcoholic drink.

The survey concluded that only 43% of Canadians are willing to pay for a meal on a long flight, 39% for extra legroom and 13% for a drink.

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"Americans enjoy in-flight extras, but not at the expense of their pocketbooks," said Dave McNamee, Expedia travel expert. "This study found Americans want amenities; however, whether they take advantage of them often depends on the length of time spent without them."

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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