We like to take stock at the end of every year to see where you were most interested in traveling. We’re here to check out where travelers actually booked and the travel trends for the previous year. Why do we do this? Well, first of all, we’re true travel nerds over here. We love to see the destinations that most inspired our customers. We also know that taking a look back can be a good predictor of where people might be heading in the future. Considering a trip in 2023? Let’s see which destinations and routes were tops for our customers over the past 12 months.

The top domestic travel destination

Maybe not a huge surprise here – but a lot of people booked vacations to Orlando. Travel trends always put Orlando near the top of the list – and for good reason. The Disney and Universal theme parks are a huge draw for families, and the warm weather makes Orlando a top pick for folks looking to escape the cold. Orlando was our top destination in searches as well as bookings.

Other top domestic destinations include Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles/Orange County.

The top international travel destination

When you think of where most Americans travel internationally, people expect to see bookings to Mexico. Mexico is certainly another top destination – with the Mexico beaches always a popular choice. Our customers searched most often for Cancun, but they also frequently searched destinations like Tulum, Cabo San Lucas and up-and-coming Sayulita. But as for bookings? More people booked Dubai than any other destination in 2022.

Why Dubai? After all, it’s not the most inexpensive destination. We have a few ideas. Our crypto customers tend to book more international tickets and Dubai is popular with international visitors. Our crypto customers hail from all over the world. We also promoted a big event on our site that ran from October 2021 to March 2022 – the Dubai Expo. This event made Dubai a more popular international destination than in years past. And finally, Dubai continues to attract more and more visitors each year. The service and standards at amazing hotel properties have raised the United Arab Emirates profile. It’s showing no sign of slowing down in 2023.

Travel trends: the most popular days to fly

In 2022, our most popular travel days (for searches and bookings) were Friday, May 27 and Monday, May 30. That means, at least for our customers, more people were flying over Memorial Day weekend.

For 2023, if you plan to get away that weekend, we’d recommend booking a little on the early side to get the best deals.

Busiest airport of 2022 – Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson

No big surprises here. The busiest airport in 2022 was Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL). As of November, Atlanta serviced close to 65,000 flights for the year, covering 1,334 routes and 96 airlines. More than 36 million passengers passed through Atlanta in 2021, and though final numbers aren’t in yet, we expect 2022 to easily clear that staggering number.

Even though Atlanta is the country’s 38th largest city, a few strategic points make this the world’s busiest airport by passengers. First, Atlanta is the hub for Delta, one of the busiest legacy airlines in the world. Next, Atlanta’s location on the eastern seaboard makes it an easy entry point for international travel. And third, the airport is within a 2 hour flight of 80% of the U.S. population. That’s logistical magic for air travel. Though it’s numbers slipped a bit during the pandemic, Atlanta is once again the busiest airport in the world.

Most popular Airline – American!

You have a lot of choices when it comes to what airline to book. And for CheapAir passengers, it turns out that American Airlines is the most popular. One major reason for American’s popularity is its size. American has the most domestic flights of any air carrier, based on number of passengers carried. American also has an extremely popular and longstanding loyalty program with a dedicated customer base.

The busiest travel day of the year

If you traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday this year – you might know this answer. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, November 27, 2022 was the busiest air travel day of the year for our customers.

Travel trends show it’s always an extremely busy day to fly, so if you do plan on traveling for this holiday we highly recommend shopping for and booking your flights on the early side in 2023. You will pay a premium for Thanksgiving travel always – so the early bird definitely gets the worm. Also, if extending your trip a bit is an option, a Monday return will usually save you some coin.

The least busy travel day of the year

If your idea of a dream travel day is one in which the airports and flights are light on people, in 2022 your best day was Friday, May 6. There was nothing happening in the news (like a massive storm system) that would indicate why more people chose to stay home this weekend, But what we do know is that sometimes the past data predicts the future.

Early May is still not quite summer travel season, so it could be that kids are still in school and more people plan their first big trip of the summer for Memorial Day weekend. We think this stat makes a good case for spring travel – historically the best time to see many destinations in the northern hemisphere (both for cost and weather). Let’s make this a historic year for spring travel trends!

The least expensive domestic flight and route on CheapAir in 2022

Philadelphia to Miami gave some lucky travelers a $50 roundtrip flight. Nowe that’s hard to beat!

The most expensive domestic flight and route paid on CheapAir in 2022

Ooof. Wouldn’t want to be the traveler who got stuck paying $2,693 for a roundtrip Economy ticket from San Diego to Newark. Our guess is that this was a last minute booking – but it illustrates that unless you have an emergency – book in advance. Otherwise, you could end up paying through the nose.

A look ahead to air travel trends in 2023

We know that 2023 is going to be another record-breaking year for expensive flights but travel trends don’t indicate a shift away from air travel. Travelers have not shown any signs of letting up on their travel dreams – even though costs soared in 2022. The airlines will continue to add back flight routes, making the market a bit less tight, and that should mean better news for flight choice and service.

It’s been another great year helping people get out there and see the world by air. We hope to see you in the skies in 2023!

4 Comments

  1. This is my third time asking why you show no bookings from Portland, OR to Cape Girardeau, Missouri?

    I just returned from a trip to that destination via American Airlines connecting in Nashville to Cape Girardeau via Contour Airlines.

    I had no problem booking directly with American Airlines.

    Just saying. Thanks!

    • Hi Edward, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have opened up a ticket with our IT team to investigate why searches to Cape Girardeau are not appearing on our website. Thank you

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