Vacation Survey Reveals Americans Choose to Work While Brits Play

British Airways study of US vs. UK vacation habits reveals Americans skip vacations in favor of keeping the boss happy

NEW YORK--()--A recent survey around the vacation habits of Americans and Brits shows that residents of the two regions can agree on one thing: the lack of vacations has an effect on their health.

The survey was commissioned by British Airways Holidays, which offers great values on everything you need to plan a memorable vacation including hotels, car rentals and more. For those looking to plan a getaway, British Airways is currently offering a roundtrip package deal, which includes departure from all US gateways to London, Barcelona, Edinburgh, DublinMadrid, Paris and Rome. The offer is valid through Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Top findings of the survey include:

  • More than two fifths of full-time British employees took all their vacation days last year, whereas just a third of Americans took it all.
  • More than 21 percent of Americans who didn’t take all their vacation last year said it was because they felt as if they were letting their employers down.
  • Full time workers in LA spend the most amount of time working on vacation compared to workers in New York and San Francisco, with the average person in LA spending 34.5 minutes a day working.
  • Almost a quarter (23 percent) of Americans think not taking enough vacations is affecting their health.

“It is unfortunate that employees in both the US and the UK are unable to take advantage of their vacation entitlements. Our statistics show that a quarter of Americans are more productive after a vacation, and a third of Americans also agreed that having a trip to look forward to makes them work harder – which means taking vacations also makes good business sense,” said Claire Bentley, British Airways Holidays’ managing director. “Spring is the perfect time to book a vacation to make the most of the great deals available, and also gives workers something to look forward to.”

Vacation entitlements and take-up – US vs UK

18 percent of full time workers in the UK are entitled to 30 days or more of vacation from their employers, whereas just 9 percent of Americans have 30 days or more. However, on average, Brits are taking 22 days of vacation per year while Americans are only using 14.

Overall, more than 42 percent of British people managed to use all of their vacation time last year, whereas just 37 percent of Americans took it all.

The biggest reason for both Americans and Brits not taking all their holiday last year was that there was simply too much work to do. Two fifths of Brits (41 percent) and the same number of Americans (42 percent) said this was why didn’t take it all.

When they do get away, it seems workers on both sides of the Atlantic are still not switching off. Brits in full time work spend an average of 26 minutes a day still working on vacation, while Americans will spend even longer doing the same (31 minutes.)

One in 10 Americans admit to spending between one and one-and-a-half hours a day working when they are meant to be relaxing on vacation, and those on a lower income are working the longest while they are away. American workers who earn under $15,000 spend the most amount of time working on holiday, with the average person working for up to 42 minutes a day.

42 percent of full time American employees also said they contact their colleagues while the colleague is on vacation – even worse, 10 percent of this group does so frequently. Similarly, 40 percent of British full-time workers said they contact their colleagues while the colleague is on vacation, with 11 percent of these saying they do so frequently.

City by city

In Los Angeles, full time workers did not take 6.5 of their entitled vacation days on average in 2015, compared to New Yorkers who did not take six of their vacation days. However, fewer than three in 10 full-time workers in Los Angeles said they took all their vacation days in 2015, compared to 42 percent of New Yorkers.

Nearly 60 percent of Denver’s full time employees took all of their allotted vacation time, making them one of the top cities in the US to do so.

Nearly 44 percent of San Franciscans use their vacation leave to travel globally – in fact, residents of the city travel to five countries in their lifetimes on average - although many workers spend on average 33 minutes per day working while on vacation abroad. This may be due to the fact that 50 percent of full time San Francisco employees feel pressured to be reachable while on vacation.

Field to field

Americans and Brits are both fully productive for approximately three quarters of the time they are contracted to work – in other words, they are productive for a six-hour workday.

Americans who work in education are productive for 79 percent of their workdays, whereas Americans in sales, media and marketing are typically productive for only 70 percent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brits and Americans in the healthcare industry are contracted to work the longest hours: 21 percent of Americans work 10 or more hours work a day, compared with 23 percent of Brits.

In the US, those who worked in sales, media and marketing had on average the least amount of vacation days a year with 13 days allowance, compared to those working in finance, who receive on average 17 days of vacation day allowance a year.

Time to Indulge

Customers wishing to take advantage of their vacation days in 2016 can visit for more information on the all-inclusive roundtrip offer for travel from March 1 – June 30, 2016.

For further information, please contact the British Airways Americas press office on 212 716 0477 or email

Alternatively, contact BA’s PR agency Text 100 on

Notes to editors:

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,045 full-time employee respondents in the US and 1,009 full-time employee respondents in UK, from January 8-13. The survey was conducted from a random sample of US and UK adults. Censuswide abides by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Full statistics and an executive summary are available on request.

Regional statistics are available for the US.


British Airways Americas
Victoria Madden, 212-716-0477 (Press Office)
Text 100


British Airways Americas
Victoria Madden, 212-716-0477 (Press Office)
Text 100