Flight statistics

How do Brits choose to fly?

The freedom and ease of air travel has made it the most popular option for Brits looking to travel abroad. With the number of Brits flying in 2018 being over 77 million and exceeding the UK population, air travel has never been more popular.

Quick facts

  • In 2018, over 77 million Brits took to the skies.
  • Air travel made up 85% of visits abroad by UK travellers in 2018.
  • The number of flights taken for the purpose of going on holiday has increased by 40% since 2010.

Number of flights by travel purpose

The graph below shows that leisure is the number one reason that Brits fly.

Purpose Number of visits
Holiday 39.8mill
Holiday as part of inclusive tour 16.5mill
Visiting friends or relatives 14.4mill
Business 5.4mill
Miscellaneous 0.8mill
Brits flying to go on holiday make up almost three quarters (73%) of all air travellers, making leisure the most popular reason for air travel. Outside of leisure, 7% of Brits are flying for business, and almost a fifth (19%) of people are flying for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives.

The number of holiday flights over time

As well as holidays being the most popular reason for flying, the number of holidays being taken by air travel is increasing.

Year Number of holiday trips by air
2010 28.4mill
2011 28.8mill
2012 28.6mill
2013 29.7mill
2014 31mill
2015 34.5mill
2016 38.2mill
2017 39.7mill
2018 40mill

From 2010 to 2018, the number of flights taken for the purpose of going on holiday increased by 40%. The greatest increase in flight numbers was between 2014 and 2015 when flight numbers increased by 11%.

The UK’s most popular airlines

A recent study asked respondents to list which airlines they had booked flights with in the past 12 months. Some respondents reported that they had flown with more than one airline during this time.

Airline Percentage
easyJet 44%
British Airways 29%
Ryanair 28%
Jet2 16%
Thomas Cook 10%
Flybe 9%
Emirates 8%
Virgin Atlantic 8%
TUIfly 6%
Wizz Air 5%
Lufthansa 4%
Norwegian 4%
Eurowings 2%
Aer Lingus 2%
Vueling 2%
Other 16%
easyJet proved to be the most popular airline, with almost half (44%) of all people replying that they had flown with the airline in the last year. Following this, British Airways and Ryanair were both included in almost a third of the overall responses (29% and 28%, respectively). The remaining airlines had 16% or fewer positive responses.

The UK’s most popular flight providers

The majority (55%) of people surveyed booked flights directly through the airline’s website as opposed to with a flight comparison website.

Provider Percentage
Directly with the airline 55%
Skyscanner 34%
Expedia 28%
Tripadvisor 11%
Cheapflights 11%
Kayak 10%
lastminute 9%
Google Flights 8%
Travel Supermarket 7%
Opodo 4%
CheapTickets.com 4%
momondo 3%
Priceline 3%
Travelocity 3%
cheapOair 2%
hotwire 2%
Orbitz 2%
Hipmunk 1%
Other 19%
Of the comparison sites, Skyscanner was the most used, with 34% of people choosing to book flights this way. Expedia was the next most popular, with 28% of responses. The next five most popular sites each had around 10% of respondents choosing them.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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