Astonishing Airline Passenger Data: Record-Breaking 4.1 Billion Travel Journeys in 2017

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.

Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

The International Air Transport Association recent published their annual study summarizing airline passenger and travel statistics.  The reports says the “average citizen” in the world flies approximately once every 22 months.  This is a HUGE increase compared to 2000 when the that number was once every 43 months!

Perhaps the increase is due to amazing travel credit card offers, which help folks travel more frequently!

The International Air Transport Association Annual Study Has Some Fascinating Information About Passenger Travel Data!

According to the report, Americans were the most frequent fliers in 2017, based on nationality, with approximately 632 million passenger journeys.  American represented nearly a 5th of total passenger journeys in 2017!  Keep in mind, the figures represent a tally of passenger journeys, not the number of unique passengers.  So one person could account for multiple journeys depending on how frequently they flew last year.

In total, airlines carried 4.1 billion passengers in 2017.  This was an increase of more than 7% compared to 2016.

The report also ranked the top airlines based on total scheduled passenger kilometers flown.  Here are the top 5 based on distance flown in 2017.  This list was curated by airlines tracking the distance each passenger flew on each specific airline.

  • American Airlines (324 billion kilometers)
  • Delta (316 billion kilometers)
  • United Airlines (311 billion kilometers)
  • Emirates (289 million kilometers)
  • Southwest (208 million kilometers)
In 2017, American Airlines Ranked #1 Based on Total Scheduled Passenger Kilometers Flown

Can you guess the top airline alliance?  According to the study, Star Alliance kept the top spot in 2017 as the largest airline alliance with 22% of total scheduled traffic followed by SkyTeam (19%) and oneworld (16%).

Miles & points enthusiasts know it’s easy to redeem rewards for Star Alliance award flights to destinations around the world!  You can apply for the best Chase Ultimate Reward point earning credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (our favorite card for beginners!), Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.  Then, transfer points to United Airlines for award flights on Star Alliance partner airlines!

You can check out the complete 62nd annual report from the International Air Transport Association.

It will be interesting to see if this study change in 2018!  Do any of these stats surprise you?  Let us know in the comments below!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Join the Discussion!

Comments are closed.