Recovery of travel agency sales in the United States in 2021

Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) today released data showing that air ticket sales from ARC-accredited travel agencies totaled $39.8 billion in 2021, a 69% increase from the total of $23 billion in 2020.* The number of passenger trips in 2021 grew 50% year-over-year, totaling 174 million from 116 million in 2020.

The results comparing December 2021 to December 2020 showed:

  • Sales totaled $3.1 billion in December 2021, a 196% year-over-year increase.

  • The total number of passenger trips settled by ARC increased 103% year-over-year, from 6.5 million to 13.2 million.

  • US domestic passenger trips increased 116% to 9.2 million, while international passenger trips increased 79% to 4.1 million.

  • The average round-trip ticket price in the United States was $460, a 37% increase from $336 in December 2020. The December 2021 price was down 4% from pre-pandemic levels of the same month; these are the average ticket prices closest to 2019 levels since February 2020.

Despite the year-over-year growth trends, December results marked a month-over-month decline from November 2021:

  • Total sales decreased by 30%.

  • The total number of passenger trips decreased by 21%.

  • US domestic travel fell 20%.

  • International travel fell by 24%.

“The year-end decline we typically see in sales and travel has been more pronounced this year as consumers become concerned about the omicron variant,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of global sales, marketing , operations and customer experience at ARC. “Total sales showed a similar decline in late summer as the number of delta variant cases increased. We expect air travel to continue to recover in 2022, with online travel agencies returning to pre-pandemic levels this spring as consumers continue to fuel the recovery.

December 2021 EMD sales increased 171% to $7,203,788. EMD transactions increased 164% to 141,224.**

More detailed information is available at The ARC Sales Statistics Page. A further breakdown of corporate, leisure and online ticket sales can be found on the ARC COVID-19 Data Page.

About CRA:

As a leader in air travel intelligence and omnichannel distribution, ARC provides platforms, tools and information that help the global travel community connect, grow and thrive. ARC enables the diverse retail strategies of its customers by providing innovative technology, flexible settlement solutions and access to the world’s most comprehensive airline transaction dataset. In 2019, ARC handled more than $97.4 billion in transactions between airlines and travel agencies, representing more than 302 million passenger trips. For more information, please visit arccorp.com.

Remarks:

*Ticket sales

  • Findings are based on monthly sales data ending December 31, 2021, from 10,783 U.S. retail and corporate travel agencies, satellite ticket printers and online travel agencies . Results do not include sales of tickets purchased directly from airlines.

  • The average ticket price (USD) is for a round-trip ticket settled through ARC for an itinerary that included only domestic travel within the United States.

  • Passenger trips include the total number of passengers making a trip from one airport to another using direct or connecting flights. Newly issued trips are added and refunded trips are deducted to provide a clean view of passengers on the move.

  • US domestic passenger travel includes the total number settled through ARC when the itinerary is entirely within the US. International passenger trips include the total number settled through the ARC when all or part of the trip is to airports outside the United States or from outside the United States.

  • Total sales equals the total amount paid for a ticket, which includes taxes and fees.

**Electronic miscellaneous documents (EMD)

  • Includes charges for products and services such as upgraded seats, checked baggage, unaccompanied minor, in-cabin pet, etc.

© Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC). All rights reserved.

Willie R. Golden