A record 158 million U.S. passengers are expected to fly commercial airlines this spring, an amount that translates to 2.6 million people every day for March and April.
Faced with such staggering numbers, U.S.-based airlines are making efforts to accommodate the increase including operating larger aircraft while also paring back flight schedules in an attempt to reduce overall pressure on the system, according to Airlines for America (A4A).
In addition to those record-breaking statistics, a just-released survey from A4A reveals that in 2022 about 44 percent of Americans flew commercially and a whopping 90 percent had taken a commercial flight in their lifetime. That’s a stark contrast to 1977 when just 25 percent of Americans had taken a flight that year and only 63 percent had flown on a commercial plane in their lifetime.
The new data also reveals that 94 percent of Americans who are 55 or older have taken a commercial flight in their lifetime as of 2023. Equally interesting, more than half of Americans reported in the new study that they had taken a flight before their 16th birthday and four out of five passengers said they flew for the first time before age 21.
When looked at by household income, the survey showed that 80 percent of Americans with an annual household income of under $50,000 have also flown commercially, while 96 percent of individuals with an income above that threshold have flown.
Additionally, those with a college degree are more likely than those without one to have flown commercially. Ninety-eight percent of those with a college degree have flown commercially in their lifetime, compared to 82 percent of those without a degree.
The key takeaway from the survey is that as air travel becomes safer and more financially accessible, an ever-greater number of Americans are taking to the skies. At this point, almost nine in 10 Americans have flown commercially.
The report comes at a time when many Americans also rate the flying experience as subpar, and needing improvement, according to a recent Ipsos poll.
At the same time, there’s a small, but growing contingent within the travel industry calling on consumers to fly less in the face of climate change and consider alternative forms of transportation that are more eco-friendly, including train travel and ferry travel. Airlines are one of the most significant contributors to the global climate crisis.
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