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Most popular flights out of 20 major airports

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June 21, 2022
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Most popular flights out of 20 major airports

After a year of pandemic-induced isolation in the U.S., air travel began to pick up again in 2021. Many people traveled for work, while others cooped up at home decided to go on a much-needed vacation.

Last year, 674 million passengers flew on U.S. airlines, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. While that number seems like a big one—it’s 83% more than the year before—it still remains below pre-pandemic levels.

To shed more light on the state of travel in the U.S., luggage storage app Bounce examined flight data from the Department of Transportation to find the most popular destinations from major U.S. airports in 2021, the latest information available. The data only includes domestic flights, as reported by U.S. airlines. In the event of a tie, the most popular location in 2020 was used.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular destinations were warm-weather spots like Los Angeles and Orlando; however, there are a few surprises on the list, as well.

As the country continues to emerge from the lingering pandemic, new travel trends have also emerged. Corporate travel—which made up a large portion of air and hotel spending—has made a slow rebound. Business travel is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, according to a 2022 Deloitte outlook report.

The age of traveles may also be shifting. Travelers over age 55, who were projected to be a large share of travelers before the pandemic, are now less likely than 18-34 year olds to take a trip, the report also found. This continues the trend in 2021, when 18-34 years took an average of 2.7 trips. This was higher compared to 35-54 year olds (2.4 average trips) and those 55 years and older (1.7 average trips).

Passengers passing through the central area of a new terminal in Salt Lake City International Airport
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Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)

- Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Top destination: Denver, Colorado
- Travelers in 2021: 690,690

An international flight arriving at Logan Airport
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General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (BOS)

- Location: Boston, Massachusetts
- Top destination: Orlando, Florida
- Travelers in 2021: 594,460

The busy passenger terminal at the Detroit Wayne County airport
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Detroit Metro Wayne County (DTW)

- Location: Detroit, Michigan
- Top destination: Atlanta, Georgia
- Travelers in 2021: 682,330

An empty ticketing/check-in area at the Lindbergh Terminal (Terminal 1) at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
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Minneapolis-St. Paul International/Wold-Chamberlain Field (MSP)

- Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Top destination: Phoenix, Arizona
- Travelers in 2021: 641,880

An exterior view of San Francisco International Airport
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San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

- Location: San Francisco, California
- Top destination: Los Angeles, California
- Travelers in 2021: 795,540

A dramatic sunrise view of planes at Newark Liberty International Airport
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Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

- Location: Newark, New Jersey
- Top destination: Orlando, Florida
- Travelers in 2021: 971,460

Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport sign
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Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Top destination: Atlanta, Georgia
- Travelers in 2021: 1.1 million

The exterior of the JFK Airport in New York
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John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

- Location: Queens, New York
- Top destination: Los Angeles, California
- Travelers in 2021: 1.1 million

The inside of Houston International Airport
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Arina P Habich // Shutterstock

George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH)

- Location: Houston, Texas
- Top destination: Denver, Colorado
- Travelers in 2021: 741,410

A view of the Miami International Airport
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Miami International Airport (MIA)

- Location: Miami, Florida
- Top destination: New York, New York
- Travelers in 2021: 917,830

The interior of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
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EQRoy // Shutterstock

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Top destination: Anchorage, Alaska
- Travelers in 2021: 844,500

People waiting in an atrium area of Orlando International Airport
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Orlando International Airport (MCO)

- Location: Orlando, Florida
- Top destination: Atlanta, Georgia
- Travelers in 2021: 1.1 million

Terminal 3 of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

- Location: Phoenix, Arizona
- Top destination: Denver, Colorado
- Travelers in 2021: 1 million

The exterior of Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas
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Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)

- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Top destination: Los Angeles, California
- Travelers in 2021: 923,540

The waiting area in Charlotte Douglas International Airport
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Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

- Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
- Top destination: Orlando, Florida
- Travelers in 2021: 614,650

The iconic LAX sign at the Century Boulevard entrance to the Los Angeles International Airport
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Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

- Location: Los Angeles, California
- Top destination: New York, New York
- Travelers in 2021: 1.1 million

Travelers walk to gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport
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Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

- Location: Chicago, Illinois
- Top destination: Los Angeles, California
- Travelers in 2021: 948,890

The interior of Denver International Airport
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Arina P Habich // Shutterstock

Denver International Airport (DEN)

- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Top destination: Phoenix, Arizona
- Travelers in 2021: 1.0 million

Airplane landing, as viewed in the reflection in the windows of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
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Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

- Location: Fort Worth, Texas
- Top destination: Los Angeles, California
- Travelers in 2021: 992,140

The main hall inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

- Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Top destination: Orlando, Florida
- Travelers in 2021: 1.1 million

This story originally appeared on Bounce and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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