Americans Traveled by Air in Record Numbers in 2014

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Airlines flew a record number of passengers in the U.S. last year, and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the busiest airport in the nation with 47 million passengers.

The number of passengers in the U.S. soared 2.5 percent to a record high of 848.1 million in 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation said. Domestic-passenger numbers rose 2.6 percent and passengers on international flights rose 2.3 percent.

The previous record high was in 2007, when 838.4 million passengers flew from the U.S.

Industry experts have attributed the growth in travel spending to an improved economy, rising consumer confidence and pent-up demand to travel since the end of the recession.

The record number of travelers partly explains why several of the largest airlines reported record or near-record profits in 2014.

The number of airline seats available slightly surpassed the increase in passengers last year, which lowered the share of filled seats to 81 percent, down from a record high of 82 percent last year, the agency reported.

Delta Air Lines carried the most passengers, 129 million, up 7.3 percent compared to 2013, according to the Department of Transportation report. Southwest ranked second, with 127 million passengers.

Atlanta was followed by Los Angeles International Airport with 34 million and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport with 33 million passengers, according to the report.