Travel Agency Air Ticket Sales Still Not at 2019 Level

Travel Agency Air Ticket Sales Still Not at 2019 Level

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Busy chicago airport

Photo: Tupungato / Shutterstock.com

Last year was the best year for travel agency ticket sales since 2019. That’s according to year-end data released this week by the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC).

ARC’s most recent data shows that December ended with $5.7 billion in U.S. travel agency sales, up 5% from the same month in 2022. That month, combined with the total of the previous 11 months in 2023, gave agencies a total of $95.3 billion in airline tickets sold in 2023.

That was the highest since 2019, which is the high watermark for the industry with $97.4 in tickets sold. It was also a 16% increase from 2022.

“2023 was a pivotal year for air travel as U.S. travel agencies and their partners responded to growing traveler demand and significant shifts in airlines’ distribution strategies,” said Steve Solomon, chief commercial officer at ARC.

That post-pandemic environment includes a boost in tickets sold across the board—both domestic and international total passenger trips increase in 2023, with international up big at 15%. It also included a significant increase in ancillary ticket sales, which totaled $280 million in 2023, up 71% from 2022

Perhaps most positive for the industry is that the total $5.7 billion in sales for December, and the $95.3 billion for year-total in 2023, comes with a relatively small increase in total ticket prices—according to ARC, the average ticket price in December 2023 was $542, up about 2% from 2022 ($531). The average ticket price is up 13% over 2019 numbers ($479), according to ARC.

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