United Just Became the World’s Second Largest Airline by Passenger Traffic

Jan 10, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

United Airlines is once again the second largest airline in the world by passenger traffic, edging out Delta as the second biggest in the worldwide metric.

In 2018, the Chicago-based carrier flew 230.2 billion revenue passenger miles — a key measure of traffic obtained by multiplying the number of passengers by the distance flown. By comparison, Delta’s revenue passenger miles for 2018 totaled 225.2 billion. Delta had been the No. 2 airline since 2015, when it knocked United out of the second place slot. American Airlines has held the title of world’s largest airline by passenger traffic and is expected to hold its place after it releases its 2018 numbers.

According to Bloomberg, United’s growth can be attributed to a recent concentrated push to increase its flight capacities by as much as 6% in some of its key markets like Chicago, Houston and Denver. That growth is not likely to slow down in 2019, with United already targeting 22 new domestic route launches and 11 new regional jet routes taking off so far this year. That’s in addition to the airline upgrading its capacity on transcontinental routes, adding flights with its new widebody Boeing 787-10.

“Our goal is not to be the biggest,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy told Bloomberg. “We want to be the best and as we implement our strategy, we are looking to build on this momentum in 2019.”

Featured image courtesy of United. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.