U.S. Travel Agency Sales Recover in 2021

2022 News Releases

U.S. Travel Agency Sales Recover in 2021

Yearly Sales, Passenger Trips Grow Despite December Month-over-Month Downturn

ARLINGTON, Va. – January 20, 2022 Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) today released data showing ARC-accredited travel agency air ticket sales totaled $39.8 billion in 2021, a 69% increase from the $23 billion total in 2020.* The number of passenger trips in 2021 grew by 50% year over year, totaling 174 million compared to 116 million in 2020.

Results comparing December 2021 to December 2020 showed:

  • Sales totaled $3.1 billion in December 2021, a 196% year-over-year increase.
  • Total passenger trips settled by ARC increased 103% year over year from 6.5 million to 13.2 million.
  • U.S. domestic passenger trips increased 116% to 9.2 million, while international passenger trips increased 79% to 4.1 million.
  • The average U.S. round-trip ticket price was $460, a 37% increase from $336 in December 2020. The December 2021 price was down 4% from pre-pandemic levels in the same month; this is the closest average ticket prices have been to 2019 levels since February 2020.

Despite year-over-year growth trends, December’s results marked a month-over-month decrease compared to November 2021:

  • Total sales decreased 30%.
  • Total passenger trips were down 21%.
  • U.S. domestic trips decreased 20%.
  • International trips decreased 24%.

“The end-of-year decrease we typically see in sales and trips was more pronounced this year with consumers worried about the omicron variant,” said Steve Solomon, vice president of global sales, marketing, operations and customer experience at ARC. “Total sales showed a similar decrease in the late summer as delta variant case counts grew. We expect a continued recovery across air travel in 2022, with online travel agencies recovering to pre-pandemic levels this spring as consumers continue to power the recovery.”

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

More detailed information is available on ARC’s sales statistics page. Additional breakdown of corporate, leisure and online ticket sales can be found on the ARC COVID-19 data page.


*Ticket Sales

  • Results are based on monthly sales data ending December 31, 2021, from 10,783 U.S. retail and corporate travel agency locations, satellite ticket printing offices 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 U.S. domestic travel.
    • Passenger trips include the total number of passengers taking 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 net view of traveling passengers.
    • U.S. domestic passenger trips include the total number settled through ARC where the itinerary is wholly within the U.S. International passenger trips include the total number settled through ARC where some or all the travel occurs to airports outside the U.S. or originates outside the U.S.
    • Total sales are equal to the total amount paid for a ticket, which includes taxes and fees.

**Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMD)

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

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


ARC accelerates the growth of global air travel by delivering forward-looking travel data, flexible distribution services and other innovative industry solutions. We are a leading travel intelligence company that possesses the world’s largest, most comprehensive global airline ticket dataset, including more than 15 billion passenger flights representing 490 airlines and 230 countries and territories. Our solutions and expertise strengthen economies and enrich lives by connecting stakeholders across the travel ecosystem. For more information, visit arccorp.com.

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Randy Spoon