Data & Statistics

Air Travelers in America: Annual Survey

Jun 23, 2022

“Air Travelers in America” is A4A’s annual survey, conducted by Ipsos, collecting vital statistics about air travel. The most recent such poll was conducted online between February 3-17, 2022, in which Ipsos interviewed roughly 10,000 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. This included approximately 3,700 adults who flew on an airline in 2021.


Beginning in the early 1970s, the Air Transport Association of America (now known as Airlines for America) partnered with Gallup to poll the American public, by phone, with respect to air travel. The last such study was conducted in 1998. In late 2015, A4A relaunched the annual survey in partnership with premier online polling firm Ipsos.

Note: Historical survey results suggest that approximately half of the airline trips taken by Americans in the 1970s and 1980s were for business purposes. In recent years, that split has gravitated toward 30 percent business and 70 percent personal.

Ipsos Methodology

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region and education.

Study Accuracy

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points for all respondents, and plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for 2020 flyers. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=10,049, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-2.6 percentage points).

Historical Survey Results re: Fraction of American Population That Flew

Ever Past 5 Years Past Year
1971 49 n/a 21
1972 54 n/a 23
1973 54 n/a 25
1974 55 n/a 24
1977 63 n/a 25
1979 65 n/a 27
1981 65 n/a 24
1983 66 n/a 22
1984 70 n/a 27
1985 70 n/a 28
1986 72 n/a 31
1987 72 n/a 30
1988 73 n/a 29
1989 78 n/a 35
1990 74 n/a 31
1991 76 n/a 32
1992 76 n/a 33
1993 77 n/a 33
1997 81 n/a 39
2015 81 n/a 54
2016 89 n/a 49
2017 88 n/a 48
2018 87 n/a 47
2019 86 n/a 45
2020 87 n/a 22
2021 90 75 37

Click here for the February 2022 survey summary: “Air Travelers in America: Key Findings of a Survey Conducted by Ipsos.”

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