Airline passenger experience in U.S. - Statistics & Facts

In 2016, the number of people traveling on airplanes worldwide increased to over 3.7 billion, with a growth rate of 5.9 percent compared to the previous year. According to a recent Statista survey, U.S. passengers traveled more often for leisure purposes in the past six months, and the majority of the airline fliers usually traveled on economy class flights.


Even though the on-time arrival performance of U.S. airlines increased in 2016 to an average of 81.4 percent, the number of complaints increased by almost 13 percent compared to one year earlier, with Spirit Airlines generating the highest rate of complaints per 100,000 enplanements.

As passenger demand is expected to grow in the coming years, airlines will have to provide a more digitally-led end-to-end passenger experience to satisfy their customers. Since one of the main wishes expressed by air passengers is that their bags be handled carefully, U.S.-based airlines are adopting new technologies to improve and further automate how they handle and track bags. Consequently, the rate of bags lost by U.S.-based airlines is on the decrease: In the United States, the rate of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers was down to 2.7 in 2016.

Due to the ubiquity of smartphones in our everyday lives, the airline industry is tapping into the area of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to IATA’s Global Passenger Survey, passengers prefer to be informed about their baggage status and delivery waiting time. In 2011, Delta Air Lines was the first company to provide a “Track My Bag” service on their mobile app, allowing passengers to check the status of their bag. American Airlines and U.S. Airways followed suit in 2015 and began offering this free service, too. In line with these improvements made to connect customers, Miami Airport is one of the first airports to implement the so-called iBeacon technology: More than 500 Bluetooth data beacons were installed all over its terminals to connect customers. The fast improvements made in the area of biometrics technologies endow the airline industry with the potential to provide a more personalized passenger experience, by using singular physical or behavioral features for passengers’ identification.

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