How Much Business Does An Airline Website Do?

Southwest Airlines sells most of its tickets directly. It doesn’t pay third parties to distribute its flights to consumers. It was the first major airline with a website (1996) and one of the first e-commerce sites to hit a billion dollars in revenue in a year.

Major U.S. airlines are a lot larger now and most transactions have migrated online. American shared with employees last week that they hit a new milestone for revenue generated at their website: $63 million in a single day.

According to American Airlines Senior Vice President of Revenue Don Casey,

On Tuesday [January 7], we set a new all-time record for revenue booked on $63M, the second over $60M day ever. And Wednesday was the third over $60M day clocking in at $62M. Although Thursday didn’t quite make it over the $60M threshold, it was a record for the day and the last three days combined were the highest-ever revenue totals booked through, averaging over $60M per day.

Video killed the radio star, and with the move online American Airlines decided to eliminate home-based telephone reservations agents.

American has made real improvements to its website technology, especially in the areas of award redemption on partners and handling rebooking during bad weather and when flights go mechanical. My own wish list includes outstanding basic functionality like the ability to redeem systemwide upgrades and miles for upgrades without picking up the telephone.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And yet just today I was unable to do a same day confirmed change online (tried both app and full website). ExpertFlyer showed E7 and E1 for the connecting flights in question, but the website said “unavailable.” I called and the EXP agent did it in less than thirty seconds.. after wading through the loathsome IVR to get to an agent.

  2. So if $63M is a record high, what do you think the average daily revenue is? Say $50M? Maybe a bit less, if you think about slow days like Christmas, etc. If you use $45M, that means $16B on-line booked direct each year, or about 1/3 of AA’s annual revenues of $45B…

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