Airline customers are paying more for heating and air conditioning in the U.S. due to lower fuel prices and tighter restrictions, according to a new study by a consumer advocacy group.
In an annual survey, Consumers Union surveyed air travelers and found that airlines spent $2.6 billion on air conditioning equipment and accessories last year.
Airline fuel prices have been dropping, making the cost of air conditioning even more affordable, according the study, which was released Tuesday.
The survey found that air conditioning has become a more common item on a plane in recent years, which is helping airlines save money and keep their fleet running.
Consumers Union’s study, published on the consumer advocacy site AirlineWatch, found that more than two-thirds of airline customers reported spending more than $1,000 on air conditioners and other equipment last year, up from 54 percent in 2015.
The airline survey asked air travelers about the quality of their air conditioner and what kind of energy savings they were getting.
Consumers said they paid $3.65 per year on average for air condition and heating on their planes, up nearly 10 percent from 2014, the study said.
Air conditioning has also become more popular in the past two years, as airlines have been more stringent about how they operate their fleets.
“Air conditioning is becoming more of an expensive option in the market,” said Richard T. Anderson, vice president of the consumer watchdog group Consumer Watchdog.
“It’s going to continue to grow.”
Airlines have been moving away from traditional heating and cooling systems and have begun moving toward air conditioning as a more efficient way to operate planes.
“We are moving toward more efficient air conditioning,” said Bill Johnson, the director of business development for United Airlines.
“The airlines are using their fleets more efficiently, and they are spending more money on that.”
While airlines typically spend around $10 billion annually on air cooling, a report by the Federal Reserve in 2015 estimated that air condition can save an airline about $20 billion annually, or $300 million per year.
The Fed said air conditioning is more efficient at keeping planes cool and air pressure down during long flights.
Airlines typically spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on fuel, maintenance and repairs for their fleets, which could make the costs of air condition more expensive.
A new study from the advocacy group American Airlines found that airline customers are saving around $100 million on their air conditioning purchases in 2017.
The group’s study said that the average consumer pays $2,800 more for fuel, heating and electricity for air-conditioning systems than they do for the same product with a similar efficiency.
“Most consumers pay the difference because they are saving money and getting the best service,” Anderson said.
“This is one way that airconditioning can be an attractive option for consumers, because they can get the benefits of both.”