Media Audit: Leisure air travel abounds in top cities survey


Media AuditJust in time for summer travel and family vacations, The Media Audit polled more than 8,000 respondents from 81 U.S. metro areas to determine the top U.S. cities for leisure air travel. Among those top cities with the highest percentage of domestic air travelers is Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, where 15.9% of the metro area’s 18+ population has flown three or more times on a domestic flight in the past year for leisure purposes. The figure is 69% higher when compared to the general U.S. population. Among all adults 18+, 9.4% of the general population has flown on a domestic flight three or more times in the past year.  Among the same general population, only 2% indicated they took six or more domestic flights in the past year.  The study excludes business air travelers.

According to experts in the travel industry, three out of four domestic trips are taken for leisure purposes (78%), with top travel activities ranging from visiting relatives to shopping, visiting friends, fine dining and beaches.   Travel and tourism represents one of America’s largest industries, with $888 billion spent on domestic and international travel in 2013. Equally important is the impact of local advertising spending by the travel industry.

According to The Media Audit, some consumer segments are more likely than others to be frequent leisure air travelers. Among “Affluent Boomers”, 25% have taken three or more domestic leisure flights; a figure that is nearly two and a half times greater than the general population. The term “Affluent Boomer” is used to describe those adults between the ages of 45 and 64 who have accumulated liquid assets of more than $250,000.  On the other spectrum, those consumers who are “Young with Money” are equally as likely as Affluent Boomers to be frequent leisure travelers, while those consumers with children living at home are 17% less likely to use domestic air travel. The term “Young with Money” is used to describe those adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who have a household income of over $100,000 annually.

Other metro areas in which frequent domestic leisure travel occurs at a higher rate than the general population is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where 15.1% of the city’s population has taken three or more leisure flights in the past year, followed by Fort Myers-Naples, Florida (15%), Seattle-Tacoma, Washington (14.8%) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (14.5%).

The top ten cities for adults who have taken three or more leisure domestic flights is below.


The data suggests that these top markets are likely to see a greater concentration of ad dollars from advertisers and that if local media is allocated wisely, they have the potential to provide for a greater return on investment due to the stronger local consumer climate.