Our latest retail report, Travel Trendlines, collected and analyzed data for the performance of airline apps in the U.S. during 2021, revealing top growth hacks and the latest trends. The report studied 6 Travel app categories, including OTAs, hotels, car rentals, and cruise lines.

The top U.S. airline apps have experienced some market share turbulence during the pandemic recovery, which began in Q2 2021. This is partially due to the absence of business travel, which the largest U.S. carriers (AmericanUnitedDelta), and their apps relied on. This made room for budget airlines like Spirit, who were becoming a popular pick for domestic leisure travel even during the second half of 2020. 

We analyzed the trajectory of Spirit’s market share since 2019 last month when Frontier announced its intent to purchase and combine the budget airlines. The market share fluctuations continued through the end of last month (Southwest regained market share), proving airlines are paying attention to mobile. 

Mobile has emerged a valuable relationship-building and loyalty channel for airlines, like many other travel apps. As travelers resumed booking tickets through airline apps, they needed more than just a booking option.  Over the last year, airlines developed user-friendly ways to change bookings, offline mode for in-flight access to entertainment and menus, and a hub for up-to-date COVID-19 travel protocols. 

A recent Statista report listed the top worries preventing international travel worldwide, and the main concerns were regarding health, safety, and money. Travelers wanted to save more money, have clear information, and be aware of international rules when hopping on flights. International budget airline Ryanair saw a 591% spike in app downloads from the U.S. when European countries welcomed tourists because it had developed its app to address all these needs. 

Apptopia’s SDK Intelligence showed that Ryanair even installed the VisionKit SDK to help passengers scan the required COVID documents directly into the app beforehand and avoid any last-minute problems. Its virtual travel assistant, the ReplayKit SDK, gave video updates up to 72 hours before departure, building trust with travelers.

Not every airline put resources into supporting this consumer need, so a vaccine passport app market formed alongside the airline industry’s recovery.

The top companies for this newest form of travel app were CLEARVeriFLY, and CommonPass. CLEAR recorded a staggering 2.5 million monthly active users in February 2022. Launched in 2010, the company already had features in place for members to verify their identity at security kiosks. Jumping on the opportunity, the app added health document verification for vaccination certificates, fill surveys, and more using the CLEAR Health Pass.

Your next destination: