These Were The Busiest Airline Routes Of 2023

In 2023, travel finally picked up around the world, reaching an estimated 90% of pre-COVID-19 levels, according to the World Tourism Organization. TSA even recorded its busiest day in history for U.S. air travel — November 26, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Even as vacationers are becoming increasingly eager to travel following years of pandemic anxiety and restrictions, many aren't flying as far as you might expect. Travel analytics company OAG released data on the busiest airline routes of 2023 based on the number of scheduled airline seats. It found that the most popular international route in the world, with nearly 4.9 million seats, ran between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Changi. Despite being in two different countries, the cities aren't far from one another and can be connected via a four-hour car ride. Still, commuters and weekend trippers may prefer the convenience of taking a quick one-hour flight over dealing with traffic and parking.

Other Asian cities dominated the list

OAG's list of the busiest international flight routes of 2023 was dominated by several other Asian cities. While flight routes between Cairo and Jeddah claimed the second spot (with nearly 4.8 million seats), most other paths that followed were found in East Asian and Southeast Asian destinations. Hong Kong to Taipei was the next busiest route, falling from its first-place spot in 2019. Seoul's Incheon Airport appeared in the top 10 three times, taking the fourth spot (Incheon to Osaka Kansai Airport), the fifth spot (Tokyo Narita Airport), and the 10th spot (between Bangkok and Incheon).

Singapore Changi also appeared in the top 10 three times. Besides snagging first place, the route between the airport and Jakarta nabbed the seventh-place spot, while flights connecting Changi and Bangkok landed in ninth place.

The only U.S. city to appear in the ranking was New York City. Nearly 3.9 million seats were scheduled for flights between the city's JFK Airport and London Heathrow, placing the route at number eight on the list.

Hawaii is home to the U.S.'s busiest domestic route

The busiest airline route within the U.S. surprisingly doesn't involve a major city such as New York or Los Angeles. Instead, OAG revealed that the route between Hawaii's Honolulu and Kahului airports was the most popular in the country, claiming over 3.6 million seats. Atlanta, the world's busiest airport (per OAG), landed in second place with its route to Orlando. The travel hub appeared in the U.S.'s top 10 list two other times too: in seventh place, with its route to Fort Lauderdale, and in ninth place for its flights to New York LaGuardia Airport.

Similar to the data on international routes, many of the world's busiest domestic flights took place in Asia. South Korea was home to the most competitive domestic route, between Jeju International and Seoul Gimpo. A whopping 13.7 million seats were devoted to the flight path in 2023. The country's neighbor to the south, Japan, nabbed the second and third-place spots. Nearly 12 million seats were scheduled on the route between Sapporo New Chitose Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport, and nearly 11.3 million seats were in place for flights from Fukuoka to Tokyo Haneda.