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Tugger
Topic Author
Posts: 11532
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:38 am

### What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fliers?

I have been looking around trying to find data on what percentage of fliers are members of FF programs. I have found data on what percent are, on average, traveling on "award" travel (around 8%-9% on the the big carriers) but no info on how many on a flight are "Frequent Fliers" and/or belong to a "Loyalty Program" (as there are far more that earn points from buying things etc, rather than flying and the numbers may not be broken out for public view). I would assume that most business travelers belong to them and some smaller percentage of casual travelers.

I ask this because with the widespread use of fee's for additional revenue, the number of people who don't pay these fee's because they belong to a FF program that allows you to avoid paying them is becoming more important.

Thanks,

Tugg

enilria
Posts: 10410
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:15 pm

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

First, I'd say "burn" of 8-9% is only true on routes like NYC/LAX/MCO/LAS/FLL/Int'l. The real average is probably closer to 5-6% and it varies by airline.

A way to guess at the answer you want is to take the award % and deteremine how many trips it takes to get a free trip. The average trip is about 3,000 miles roundtrip. It takes about 10 trips to get a free ticket, as few as 5 for elites. Let's use 8 on average. That means there should be an 8:1 ratio of earn to burn, if burn is 5-6%, that would imply that the passengers "earning" represent ~48%. There are other factors at play which include miles earned from other sources like credit cards and mileage expiration, but I'd say that number is close. So, that would be 48% earning + 6% burning on an average flight, so 54% on average would be FFP members. It would be considerably higher if you removed the LCCs from the average.

BD338
Posts: 576
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:00 am

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

I recall reading somewhere that DL once said they had 70 million Skymiles members but only around 2-3% of those were actually elite level, and only the elites escape the bag fees etc.

enilria
Posts: 10410
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:15 pm

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

 Quoting BD338 (Reply 2):I recall reading somewhere that DL once said they had 70 million Skymiles members but only around 2-3% of those were actually elite level, and only the elites escape the bag fees etc.

And the number of active accounts is probably only 15 million. That has nothing to do with your question because the elites fly very frequently to become elite. So they count 10 to 30 times more than the once per year traveler in terms of passengers onboard.

Tugger
Topic Author
Posts: 11532
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:38 am

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

 Quoting enilria (Reply 1):The real average is probably closer to 5-6% and it varies by airline.

Well I based my statement on what I had found online, this is one of the more recent ones:

 Quote:American Airlines had the greatest percentage of passengers flying on award tickets at 8.9 percent, followed closely by Delta at 8.5 percent and then United, Petersen said.

.
 Quoting enilria (Reply 1):A way to guess at the answer you want is to take the award % and deteremine how many trips it takes to get a free trip. The average trip is about 3,000 miles roundtrip. It takes about 10 trips to get a free ticket, as few as 5 for elites. Let's use 8 on average. That means there should be an 8:1 ratio of earn to burn, if burn is 5-6%, that would imply that the passengers "earning" represent ~48%. There are other factors at play which include miles earned from other sources like credit cards and mileage expiration, but I'd say that number is close. So, that would be 48% earning + 6% burning on an average flight, so 54% on average would be FFP members. It would be considerably higher if you removed the LCCs from the average.

Interesting numbers (and how you arrived at them), 54% is a lot more than I imagined. Thanks!

Tugg

[Edited 2010-10-27 17:03:35]

sectflyer
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:19 pm

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

On Sunday nights DL to SFO to ATL flight there were 40 people on the upgrade list! I suppose on a heavy elite route like that the results are skewed in a survey like this but still!

RamblinMan
Posts: 1027
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:57 pm

### RE: What Percentage Of Passengers Are Frequent Fli

 Quoting sectflyer (Reply 5):On Sunday nights DL to SFO to ATL flight there were 40 people on the upgrade list! I suppose on a heavy elite route like that the results are skewed in a survey like this but still!

Yep. It's quite impossible to answer the op's question, because the answer will vary A LOT between routes, and even between flights on the same route. I've flown MDW-ATL on a Friday afternoon where as a lowly silver I was #26 of 28 on the upgrade list, but on the same route at 8am on a Saturday I was #1 of 1.
By choosing flights carefully a silver can snag upgrades on that route and many others, but I know there are routes in the system where lots of plats fly coach.

On the miles-burning end, you can imagine the results... to book a WN award seat on MDW-LAS you have to plan pretty far in advance, but you can usually find MDW-STL with no trouble. I would imagine that the lowest-tier award seats to Hawaii go real quick on the carriers that fly there.

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