New Data: 35 Surprising Travel Stats

New Data: 35 Surprising Travel Stats


It feels like every week new technology is released, airport rules change, and previously acceptable airport behavior becomes taboo at the drop of a hat. The travel landscape is constantly evolving. It’s almost impossible to stay up to date. 


We set out to discover the most surprising travel statistics of the new decade. What are the travel trends popping up in 2020? Is it acceptable to bring your own food on the airplane? What days are best to travel on? Are hotels still dominating, or are Airbnbs taking over?

We surveyed over 1,000 business travelers in the United States and identified the most common trends and patterns among frequent travelers. Here’s what we found. 

Pre-Travel Preferences

1. American Airlines is business travelers’ preferred airline.

Travelers are 4 times more likely to choose American vs. JetBlue. Delta and United are a close second and third behind American. 


2. Direct flights = high priority for the majority 

Business travelers are twice as likely to pick direct flight options over both extra leg room and cleanliness. 

3. The price must be right.

Price is also one of the top determining factors when choosing an airline.

But, it turns out that Finance departments are the least price sensitive when booking travel...

4. Pick a day, any day.

calendar days-1

Tuesday is the top choice for a travel day for business travelers.

5. Except please don’t pick Friday. 

Friday is the last choice — business travelers are 4 times more likely to avoid traveling on a Friday than a Sunday.

6. Are all travelers early birds?

No matter the day, 78% of travelers prefer early morning to late night travel.


In-flight preferences

7. Carry-on vs. checking bags? 

Two-thirds of road warriors prefer to travel with just carry-on luggage.

8. Carry the bag, check the stress.

87% of travelers like to give themselves plenty of time at the airport, arriving an average of 2 hours before their flight. 


9. Go-to travel outfit? 

78% of travelers feel the days of dressing up for air travel are over. Sweats it is.

10. No rest for the weary.

Only 45% of business travelers say working is their preferred option on flights, but 69% say they end up doing work anyway.

11. Nearly half of travelers are germaphobes. 

44% wipe down or sanitize their seat and tray table while traveling. 

Women are 24% more likely to sanitize.

12. One-third of travelers live on the edge.


1 out of 3 travelers don’t follow the “Please turn off all personal electronic devices” instructions. 

13. Is there such a thing as the perfect seat? 

65% prefer the window seat. 

34% take the aisle.

And (hot take) 1% go for the middle.

14. But who gets which armrest? 

35% of travelers argue the middle seat gets both armrests. Do you agree?

15. Real talk: who offers the best snacks? 

American (27%) and Delta (26%) take the cake. 

16. Go-to munchies. 

Pretzels (17%) and Peanuts (14%) were travelers’ top two picks for in-air bites.

17. But, more than half of travelers opt to bring their own food airplane food

And women are 30% more likely to do so. 

18. Hydration station. 

Water is the top choice for nearly 30% of travelers, followed by soda and coffee.

19. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

41% of business travelers like some liquid encouragement during their flight. 

18% indicate alcohol is their go-to drink in the air. Here’s the breakdown:

alcohol preferences-120. Stranger danger.

One-third of travelers like to strike up a conversation with the person next to them. 34% say those conversations have resulted in new business opportunities, with Finance folks the most likely to make something of them.


21. Where do you sleep? 

89% of business travelers prefer hotels over Airbnb or VRBOs

22. Their top go-to’s:

  • Marriott
  • Hilton
  • Hyatt


23. Location, location, location.

Proximity (65%) and Price (61%) are the top two decision factors. 

24. You’ve gotta pay to play.

56% of business travelers have paid for upgrades out of pocket. 

25. What are travelers shelling out extra cash for? 

34% are more likely to upgrade on hotels than flights.


26. Priorities change. 

Over half of travelers who exercise at home say that they don’t when traveling for work.

27. To unpack or not to unpack…

More than half of business travelers prefer to keep their clothes in their suitcase and pull items out as needed.

28. Room service anyone? 

Less than half of business travelers venture out of the hotel for food.

29. Taxis are getting the chop. 

More than two-thirds of travelers prefer taking an Uber or Lyft than a taxi to get around.

30. Hot or Iced?

Business travelers are twice as likely to turn to hot coffee than iced for their caffeine buzz. 

31. Travelers can’t seem to make up their mind.

That is, about Chicago, Atlanta and NYC. All three of those cities made the list for both best, and worst, cities for travel. 

32. Anything worse than delays? No.

64% of travelers say they would rather work extra hours than deal with travel delays. 


33. 1 in 3 travelers would rather spend a full week with their in-laws than deal with delays.

34. And more than 10% would rather get the flu than deal with travel delays…

35. I feel like I’m forgetting something…

The top two items most commonly forgotten by travelers are toothbrush and toothpaste. 

10% of travelers have forgotten underwear when hitting the road.

What do you often leave behind? 

About the Author: Kathleen Burns
Kathleen Burns was a Content Marketing Associate at from 2019-20.