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72.2 Million Served

Andrea Sachs

In high school, I could not stand statistics; I preferred to find the value of a and b if a=c, or even measure right angles. However, when the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics issues a report, I regret making a vodoo doll out of my math teacher, Mr. Thompson. These numbers are fascinating, and really put the travel experience in perspective.

For example, U.S. airlines carried 72.2 million domestic and international passengers in July -- a record high for a single month and 2.2 percent more than the previous record of 70.6 million in July 2005. Imagine if every resident of Turkey flew to Vegas, leaving the country without a soul. The number also breaks the last record, 70.6 million in 2005. Yep, people are definitely flying again.

Also in July, load factors (the percentage of occupied seats) reached an all-time high for combined domestic and international flights: 86 percent, topping the previous high of 85.8 percent in June. Other interesting tidbits: Of the top 10 airlines, Southwest carried the most domestic passengers in the first six months of this year (59.4 million); Sky West ranked at the bottom, with 12.1 million (only .018 more than JetBlue). Among airports, Atlanta was the busiest, with 28.8 million folks boarding planes January-July. Las Vegas had half that number, and Washington area airports did not even register on that list. It only seems like we're fighting off many millions of people when we want to take a vacation.

By Andrea Sachs |  October 16, 2007; 6:46 AM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Andrea Sachs
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You know, my husband and I fly a lot (and we even flew in July) - I have yet to see a plane less than 100% full in the past couple of years. Where are these 85% full flights? (Obviously they aren't on US Airways...)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | October 16, 2007 4:51 PM

I wonder if we're near a peak. With the increasing cost of fuel and concerns that airplanes give off greenhouse gases that lead to global warming, I wonder if the government will act to restrict flying in the near future.

Posted by: Folger | October 17, 2007 2:53 PM

The only reason we're not on that list because we have 3 mid-sized airports - I'd imagine if you combine them into one the DC area would rank rather high.

Posted by: Liz | October 17, 2007 6:42 PM

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