Transport Airlines

Booze Is the Biggest Source of In-Flight Revenue for U.S. Airlines

@SamShankman

Jul 02, 2014 6:00 am

Skift Take

Becoming aware of flyers’ purchasing habits helps airlines optimize their offerings and timing, all in hopes of convincing more flyers to indulge in a drink, snack, or blanket.

— Samantha Shankman

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Russell James Smith  / Flickr

A drink served during a flight. Russell James Smith / Flickr


Flyers spend more money on alcohol than any other in-flight purchase, according to data collected by onboard technology company GuestLogix, which tracked 8 million transactions across five U.S. airlines between November 2013 and March 2014.

Sales of liquor, beer and wine account for 57 percent of all sales during the four-month period. Liquor is overwhelming the most popular beverage of choice (34%) followed by wine (13%) and beer (10%).

Non-alcoholic beverages account for a measly one percent of sales.

During the four-month period, alcohol sales brought in more than $43 million, which is $13 million more than the airlines brought in food and comfort sales.

The most popular item bought onboard is fresh food products accounting for 37 percent of all sales during the four-month period. Snack items like peanuts and chips made up a substantial small proportion of sales — only 3 percent.

One reason for the discrepancy is that GuestLogix counts sales on 5 airlines for beverages and only 4 airlines for food items.

Purchases Change Based on Destination

Other interesting buying trends were found based on the plane’s destination.

Travelers on flights to Las Vegas spend the most on beverages, an average of $93 per flight, while flights to San Francisco, Seattle and San Francisco have the highest spend on food, between $128 and $140 on average.

The highest sales of comfort items (headphones, blankets, entertainmnet) occur on flights to the west: Portland, Honolulu and Anchorage all place in the top five. This is likely due to a high number of long-haul flights during which passengers are onboard for more hours and therefore more likely to splurge for comfort.

Another interesting insight that GuestLogix found in the data collection is that in-flight sales across all categories was consistently highest on Sunday.

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