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Here's our breakdown of which airlines fly to the most destinations

April 30, 2022
8 min read
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Ponta Delgada (in Portugal's archipelago of the Azores), Tenerife (one of Spain’s Canary Islands), and the Balearic capital of Palma de Mallorca have something in common, other than being popular island destinations: All three happen to be among the latest additions to United Airlines’ global route network.

By serving niche markets like these small islands, United Airlines retains its position as the airline that flies to the largest number of destinations in the world.

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Although still lagging behind its own pre-pandemic figures, United is pulling ahead in this ranking, according to digital flight information website OAG's analysis of IATA summer season data. The airline serves 389 destinations, surpassing American Airlines which flies to 364 airports.

To compile the list of airlines that fly to the most destinations, we used scheduled flight data that covers the summer season (specifically March 27 to October 29), which has been provided by OAG — one of the industry’s primary sources of aviation industry data.

Bear in mind, counting destinations can be trickier than it sounds. Not only can airline networks be subject to drastic changes at short notice (just ask airlines that used to fly anywhere near Ukraine and Russia), but also rankings can only give you a snapshot at a specific moment in time.

Related: How airline route maps changed in 2021, and what to expect in 2022

Looking at the data for several different time periods though, it's possible to get a general idea of which airlines dominate when it comes to destinations served. The specific figure may vary, but overall numbers tend to remain in the same ballpark, and the top positions are usually taken by the same carriers.

domestic and international destinations served this summer

AirlineDomesticInternationalGrand Total
United Airlines252137389
American Airlines230134364
Turkish Airlines59250309
Ryanair93215308
Delta Air Lines21391304
Deutsche Lufthansa AG22207229
British Airways22200222
Air France25191216
Wizz Air18176194
Easyjet58136194
China Southern Airlines15628184
China Eastern Airlines15527182
Air Canada52128180
LATAM Airlines Group11946165
Qatar Airways7157164
KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines4159163
FlexFlight ApS9665161
Air China12927156
TUI fly Belgium45109154
Eurowings12138150
Source: OAG for the period of March 27-October 29, 2022.

For example, if we looked at the number of destinations United and American served on April 19, rather than at the whole summer season, the stats show 329 (versus 389) and 326 (versus 364), respectively. As expected, zooming out to a longer time-frame produces larger figures, since a single flight to a given destination at any time during the season would count toward the final tally.

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Another important matter to consider is how to account for those flights operated through subsidiaries or partners. The network figures provided here for U.S. carriers include points served by regional partners, which despite being commercially integrated into mainline operations, are technically separate carriers with their own air operator certificates (AOCs).

There are also plenty of routes that are either seasonal or operated occasionally, which may provide a somewhat skewed view of the real passenger fluxes.

A case in point: Despite carrying more passengers than any other U.S. carrier, Delta Air Lines appears to be a distant fifth in terms of the total number of destinations served this summer season. OAG data shows the Atlanta-based carrier serving 304 airports.

Total number of destinations served by airlines currently

AirlinesDestinations (as of April 19)
United Airlines329
American Airlines326
Delta Air Lines262
Turkish Airlines252
Ryanair210
Deutsche Lufthansa AG192
Air France181
British Airways166
China Southern Airlines156
KLM-Royal Dutch Airways155
Qatar Airways145
China Eastern Airlines144
Azul Airlines142
Air Canada134
LATAM Airlines Group130
Wizz Air130
EasyJet127
Emirates125
Allegiant Air LLC.125
Air China122

Southwest Airlines

117

Source: OAG as of April 19, 2022.

A huge and well consolidated domestic air travel market helps United and American earn the two top spots on the above table. But when we look at international destinations only, it is Turkish Airlines that emerges as the leader (and third overall), with 250 international routes out of the 309 destinations served by the Turkish flag carrier. Turkish Airlines’ network is so extensive that it reaches places where few other airlines tread, such as Afghanistan and Somalia.

Additionally, Turkish Airlines serves some major cities through more than one airport. For example, it offers flights from Istanbul Airport (IST) to both John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), while its London service comprises no less than three different gateways: Heathrow Airport (LHR), Gatwick Airport (LGW) and London Stansted Airport (STN).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The other airline completing the top five is Ryanair. The low-cost Irish airline is serving 308 airports this summer season, and unlike other airlines at the top of the ranking, it does so without any long-haul flights in its network.

Its numerous bases across Europe though, make Ryanair the undisputed winner when it comes to the number of city pairs it operates. OAG data shows Ryanair’s count of scheduled airport market pairs at 2,108 — more than double the two closest contenders, American (1,031) and United (880). For context, Southwest Airlines — the point-to-point no-frills carrier that is said to have served as inspiration for Ryanair’s success story — stood at a mere 785 by this measure.

Related: The ultimate survival guide for flying Ryanair

European carriers complete the list of top 10 airlines that fly to the most destinations. The table's fifth through 10th spots, include three major flag carriers, Lufthansa (229), British Airways (222) and Air France (216), as well as two low cost carriers, Wizz Air and EasyJet, with 194 destinations each.

The top 20 airlines based on number of city pairs

AirlinesCity Pairs
Ryanair2,108
American Airlines1,031
United Airlines880
Southwest Airlines785
Delta Air Lines767
EasyJet711
Wizz Air633
China Southern Airlines557
China Eastern Airlines526
Allegiant Air LLC.459
IndiGo420
Turkish Airlines403
Air China355
Spirit Airlines310
Sichuan Airlines300
Jetblue Airways Corporation297
Deutsche Lufthansa AG295
Spring Airlines293
Frontier Airlines Inc.286
Azul Airlines282
Source: OAG as of April 19, 2022.

Finally, we can't underestimate the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had in distorting travel patterns and networks, even as airlines are beginning to rebound. For example, American has dropped 29 of the destinations it used to operate back in 2019, though 21 new ones have been launched.

Traffic seems to be finally recovering from the pandemic, but the resulting route maps may end up looking a bit different from those of three years ago.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
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  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.