Domestic leisure travel is normalizing, yet, continues to experience growth—serving as a lifeline for the industry.

Why it matters: In 2022, domestic leisure travelers took nearly two million trips, generating $837 billion in travel spending.

  • In fact, spend by domestic leisure travelers represented 78% of total domestic travel expenditures and is expected to increase 5% in 2023.

Zoom in: So far, air travel is on track to surpass pre-pandemic levels this summer, but as a result of labor shortages, aircraft delays and outdated technology, air travel capacity has not been able to keep up with demand—revealing the inadequacies of our antiquated air travel infrastructure.

  • By the numbers: Since the beginning of May, TSA has experienced more than 100 straight days screening two million or more passengers. TSA recorded its busiest day in history on the Friday ahead of the 4th of July weekend—screening nearly 3 million travelers on one day.

What else: Our latest consumer insights data from Ipsos reveals that, while the majority of recent air travelers say they are at least somewhat satisfied with their overall travel experience (80%), less than one-third are very satisfied (32%), citing airport crowding and congestion and flight delays or cancellations as primary reasons.

  • And, over half of Americans (52%) say they would travel more for leisure in the next six months if the travel experience was not as much of a hassle.

Demand for leisure travel cannot be guaranteed—and that’s why it’s imperative that the traveler experience at every stage be improved.

The bottom line: As we look to grow travel to and within the U.S., it’s essential that we invest in significant upgrades to our air travel system.

What’s next: The upcoming FAA reauthorization bill is an opportunity for Congress to address these challenges and other inadequacies within our system to shape a more seamless and secure end-to-end travel experience.



Ensure the FAA reauthorization bill provides at least $50 million per year for aviation workforce development programs, which would help increase the supply of qualified pilots, mechanics and manufacturers and provide additional pathways to certification

Ensure the FAA reauthorization bill directs the FAA to update their staffing models for Air Traffic Control to account for projected growth in air traffic demand, while also ensuring the agency has enough funding to hire needed air traffic controllers

Ensure the FAA reauthorization bill provides at least $4 billion per year in Airport Improvement Program grants and rebalances the share of grants and funding formula across large, medium and small airports

Fund Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staffing needs by setting aside at least $5.1 billion in FY2024 appropriations for TSA to hire additional Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and ensure they receive competitive pay

Set aside $983 million in FY2024 appropriations for the National Park Service to meet ongoing operational and maintenance needs, while continuing to support the annual $1.3 billion provided by the Great American Outdoors Act (P.L. 116-152)

Consider National Park Service reforms that give parks greater flexibility in the use of private funds or fee revenue for maintenance and improvement costs



U.S. Travel

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