The Swing Traveler: Who They Are and How They Impact Airports

Would you take the train a few cities away to fly out of an airport with better fares and services? For today’s jet-setter, the answer is increasingly, “yes.”  

It’s the age of the swing traveler – people who choose to fly through airports outside their towns or cities. Whether it’s a more affordable fare, better dining options, or shorter check-ins, swing travelers prioritize these selling points over loyalty– even if it means passing on a (much) shorter drive to the local airport.

What is airport leakage?  

Swing travelers are the driving force behind the phenomenon known as “airport leakage.” This term refers to the transition of customers from a local airport to an out-of-region airport in search of more convenient or cost-effective rates and services.  

Airport leakage isn’t just influencing travelers, but the way airports market to their customers. We recently spoke at the Volaire Air Service Forum on the phenomena of airport leakage. If you’d like to know more details about our talk, please feel free to reach out. 

Why do swing users present an opportunity for airports?  

As options for lower fares and more convenient airport services increase, so does airport leakage. This trend can be an excellent opportunity for airport marketers: Based on a sample of Expedia Group’s first-party data, airports listed on Expedia Group points of sale see significantly more ticket purchases from swing users. In fact, swing users traveling through small hub primary or non-hub primary airports purchase, on average, 7x the amount of tickets than travelers loyal to their airport.  

How custom digital marketing attracts swing travelers  

Airports looking to attract swing travelers can leverage our first-party travel intent and booking data to reach millions of highly engaged travel shoppers across Expedia Group’s sites.  

From trip details to airline attributes such as route and air class, we capture billions of data points based on traveler behavior. The result is powerful, custom audience segments advertisers can use to reach travelers at the right place and right time.  

Lincoln Airport (LNK), Nebraska’s second-largest airport, collaborated with us on a custom landing page to stand out among competitors. The result was a comprehensive look inside the airport’s offerings – from a variety of travel routes, to parking options and more.   


Appleton International Airport 

Travelers visit an average of 140 sites in the days before booking a trip. This time frame provides an opportunity for airports to position themselves as a better option over competing airports. By leveraging custom digital marketing solutions, Appleton International Airport (ATW) did just that.  


Their campaign consisted of ads on multiple pages across chosen sites – from the homepage to the search results page. ATW successfully caught the attention of swing users and achieved:  

  • A 40% year-over-year increase in demand for air tickets.    
  • Click-through-rates for marquee ads performed at twice the benchmarked goal.  
  • Raised awareness of their airport as a viable and cost-effective alternative to other airports in the surrounding area.  

Curious to know more about how airports can leverage custom digital marketing strategies to connect with swing users? Learn more about how our team can help here. 

Matt Hansen

Matt Hansen

Director of Business Development, NA

Matt Hansen is a Director at Expedia Group Media Solutions, where he leads business development across a diverse territory in North America. Matt and his team work with marketers from international air, destinations, hotels, gaming and casinos, as well as agencies, to create and execute strategic media campaigns across the leading portfolio of Expedia Group brands. His team also oversees global programmatic advertising opportunities for marketing partners through Media Solutions. Matt has more than 15 years of online travel agency and digital media experience ranging from sales management to strategic partnerships. Matt is a graduate of The University of St. Francis, with a master’s in management, and earned a bachelor of science in environmental science from Illinois State University. He lives outside of Chicago and spends his free time traveling with his wife and children.

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