The University of Toledo University Transportation Center

UTUTC-IU-7: Travel Behavior of U.S. Domestic Airline Passengers and Its Impacts on Infrastructure Utilization

Focus Area: Infrastructure Utilization

Principal Investigator:

Bhuiyan M. Alam, Ph.D., M.ASCE
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography and Planning
The University of Toledo
Toledo, OH 43606

Project Dates: 05/12/2008 – 5/11/2009; no-cost extension to 06/30/2009

Project Year: Year 2

UT-UTC Designation: UTUTC-IU-7


The airline carriers have failed to raise their level of service to meet on- and off- board service quality demands by the passengers in recent years. In fact, the level of service has been lowered by the airline carriers in the past decade. Unexpected and unannounced delays and cancellations of flights have emerged as a quasi-normal phenomenon in recent months and years. The airline unreliability is becoming unbearable day by day; however, the volume of airline passengers on domestic routes in the United States has risen in recent years despite the lowering of level of service and the devastating terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. Some speculate that this increased ridership has caused extra pressure on available infrastructure such as airports. However, the causes of increases in air passenger volume despite the presence of frictional factors such as low level of service have not been thoroughly investigated by academicians recently. The nature of current air passenger travel behavior is also largely unexplored. I propose to study the travel behavior of airline passengers and investigate the contributing factors leading to increases in the volume of airline passengers on U.S. domestic routes. I intend to investigate whether the travel demand by the airline passengers has crossed the threshold infrastructure utilization level. I also propose to investigate whether low level of service has caused air passengers divert to ground transportation. If so, I intend to analyze its impacts on ground transport infrastructure utilization and costs. Initially, I plan to investigate these factors analyzing the in- and out-bound domestic flights in the airports of this region: Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County International Airport (DTW), Cincinnati-Covington International Airport (CVG), Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE), and Toledo Express Airport (TOL). If I encounter any unforeseen trouble with data on any of the said airports while working on the project, I’ll select other appropriate airports and work on those. In this regard, I’ll greatly appreciate the advice from UT-UTC on selecting most appropriate airports for this study. If funding continues for the second stage, I’ll increase the scope of my study and investigate the travel behavior of airline passengers and infrastructure utilization at the national level. I’ll conduct a longitudinal study of the last decade using the dataset provided by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


UT-UTC Grant
Match Amount
Total Project 

$ 20,000 
$ 20,102
$ 40,102
Final Report:

Final Report  PDF Symbol

Last Updated: 6/9/16