This report covers the US airline industry extensively. Accelerate your insight strategy with the foundations of this data-backed report. Below, we’ve provided the key topics covered and handpicked findings from the full report.

Key Topics Covered

  • The flight patterns and preferences of various passenger demos.
  • The changing motivations for choosing one flight over another.
  • Factors that can persuade a flyer to upgrade their ticket.
  • Eating habits of flyers, and what airlines can do to meet flyer demand.
  • How passengers perceive sleep and entertainment on flights.
  • Attitudes toward carriers and how they value employee identity and the environment.

US Airline Market Size 2023-2028

The US airline industry is projected to experience steady growth in the next five years, with total revenue estimated to reach $254.5 billion in 2023, a significant increase compared to 2018. However, the industry is currently in a transitional phase, with a shift toward leisure revenue due to the slow recovery of corporate travel.

US Air Travel Statistics: Consumer Focus

  • Air travel has returned strong. 61% of consumers took a flight in the last 12 months, a step up from pre-pandemic numbers. There’s a skew toward leisure travel, though, as business travel is still taxiing and not expected to recover until 2025.
  • Price is key in flight choice factors. Despite topping consumers’ concerns in flight choice, price is only part of the value equation. Comfort as a choice factor is up 7% from 2021, showing increased care taken to ensure a positive flight experience.
  • Free WiFi should be on the cards. 69% of consumers who have taken a flight in the last 12 months would prefer free WiFi over free in-flight entertainment. Carriers can therefore lead the way by providing this, especially as younger passengers show elevated demand.

Opportunity for US Airline Industry Stakeholders

Passengers of low-cost carriers benefit from affordable fares and may not feel the need to upgrade. Implementing a reward system that offers higher loyalty program earnings for upgrade purchases can motivate members to accumulate points at a quicker pace, which can then be used for free travel.

Find a comprehensive analysis of opportunities in the full report. For more relevant reports, explore our travel market research.

Brands Referenced

A number of brands relevant to an analysis of the competitive/innovation landscape are referenced, including but not limited to Porter Airlines, Emirates, Delta, Southwest, and United.

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Expert Analysis

Experienced travel analyst Mike Gallinari delivers expert insight into the US airline industry with this report.

Sluggish business travel recovery forces airlines to focus on leisure travelers. Meeting their evolving definition of value is key to acquiring their loyalty.

Mike Gallinari, Travel and Leisure Analyst


Mike Gallinari
Travel & Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

    • Key issues covered in this Report
  1. Executive Summary

  2. Consumer Insights

    • Consumer fast facts
    • Flights in 2023
    • Graph 1: number of flights in the last 12 months – trended, 2020-23
    • Graph 2: flights in the last 12 months – reasons, 2021 vs 2023
    • Graph 3: number of flights in the last 12 months, by generation, 2023
    • Graph 4: number of flights in the last 12 months, by work location, 2023
    • Graph 5: flight booking and loyalty, by generation, 2023
    • Flight options and motivations
    • Graph 6: flight options, most recent flight taken in last 12 months, 2021 vs 2023
    • Graph 7: fare class of last flight, by generation, 2023
    • Graph 8: flight choice factors – any rank, by gender, 2023
    • Motivations to upgrade
    • Graph 9: fare class upgrade motivations, 2023
    • Graph 10: fare class upgrade motivations, by generation, 2023
    • Graph 11: upgrade motivations, by loyalty status, 2023
    • Flying and eating
    • Graph 12: eating habits on flight days, 2023
    • Graph 13: eating habits on flight days, by generation, 2023
    • Opinions of carriers
    • Graph 14: domestic carrier opinions, 2023
    • Graph 15: opinion of upcharge value, by generation, 2023
    • Attitudes toward professionalism
    • Graph 16: attitudes toward professionalism, 2023
    • Graph 17: attitudes toward professionalism, by generation, 2023
    • Attitudes toward sleep and entertainment
    • Graph 18: attitudes toward in-flight sleep, by TLP status, 2023
    • Graph 19: attitudes toward in-flight entertainment, 2023
    • Attitudes toward sustainability
    • Graph 20: attitudes toward sustainability, 2023
    • Graph 21: attitudes toward sustainability, by generation, 2023
    • Graph 22: attitudes toward sustainability, by flight frequency, 2023
  3. Competitive Strategies

    • Launch activity and innovation
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Graph 23: airline brand media spend (thousands), April-October 2023
    • Opportunities
  4. The Market

    • Market context
    • Market drivers
    • Graph 24: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, 2018-23
    • Graph 25: TSA checkpoint travel numbers, by month, 2022-23
    • Market size and forecast
    • Market segmentation
    • Brand performance
    • Graph 26: carrier preferences, 2023
  5. Appendix

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

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