More Passengers Flew on U.S. Airlines in 2016 Than Ever Before
U.S. airlines carried 823 million passengers in 2016.
U.S. airlines carried 823 million passengers in 2016, up from 798 million in 2015, according to the Department of Transportation.
That includes 719 million domestic passengers (up 3.3 percent) and 103.9 million international (up 1.7 percent).
Although 2016's passenger numbers broke records, planes were not at their fullest: U.S. airlines increased capacity last year, so the load factor — or how many seats had passengers in them — decreased from 83.8 percent in 2015 to 83.4 percent in 2016.
Although there was a decrease in load factor, the 83.4 percent returns it to where it was in 2014. And that's a big increase from about a decade ago, when airlines averaged a load factor of closer to 75 percent. Airlines have gotten more efficient at filling flights — great for their profits and not-so-great for passengers hoping for some space to stretch out.