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Top 10 Airlines in US and Canada

Bums in Seats, Not Number in Fleet

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Here is a list of the top 10 airlines in the United States and Canada. See which airlines passengers are choosing the most according to ticket sales. This is not about travel distance, simply the most passengers.

Note - I used statistics from the US government (current as of the end of 2010), and the most recent ones available for Air Canada.

1. Delta Airlines

Delta Airplane
nathaninsandiego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Delta has emerged as the airline that offers the most international flights out of the United States, and has its main hub in Atlanta.

2. United Airlines (soon to fully include Continental Airlines)

United Airlines - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Hiroko Masuike / Getty Images

United's main hubs are Chicago and Denver, with San Francisco a hub for many Pacific routes. United Airlines (once all of the numbers are tabulated for a full year post-merger) will take over top spot on this list.

3. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Cubbie-n-Vegas / Flickr

This grand-daddy of low cost airlines in the United States now breaks the top 3 in terms of passengers.

4. American Airlines

American Airlines - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Cubbie-n-Vegas / Flickr

American Airlines has long been the largest airline in the world, but has been recently edged out in terms of passengers by Delta.

5. US Airways

US Airways - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Cubbie-n-Vegas / Flickr

Since merging with America West, US Airways has jumped in size.

6. Air Canada

Air Canada - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
bri bri TO / Flickr

Canada's flagship carrier serves both domestic and international routes, and is one of the five founding members of Star Alliance along with United Airlines.

7. AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
wbaiv / Flickr

This low cost US airline launches airfare deal after deal. Its passenger numbers will soon be rolled in with Southwest Airlines with the merger in 2010.

8. Skywest Airlines

Skywest Airlines - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Cubbie-n-Vegas / Flickr

Skywest serves as a regional airline for airlines such as Delta and United. This airline just edged out JetBlue in terms of passenger numbers, and just fell behind AirTran.

9. JetBlue

JetBlue - Top 10 Airlines in the United States and Canada
Cubbie-n-Vegas / Flickr

JetBlue is known as a low cost airline with a high level of customer service. With its main hub in New York, JetBlue serves the United States and much of the Caribbean. JetBlue may currently hold the 9th position, using data dating to the end of 2010, but with the merger of AirTran and Southwest Airlines, it should move up the passenger number rank soon.

10. ExpressJet

ExpressJet - Top 10 Airlines in the US and Canada
JFeister / Flickr

ExpressWho? ExpressJet is the surprising tenth entry on the list of biggest airlines in North America based on passenger numbers. If there is any doubt that regional airlines rule some altitudes of the North American skies, well this list shows how dominant regional carriers are.

ExpressJet will be folded in with Skywest as its subsidiary - Atlantic Southeast Airlines - has recently merged with ExpressJet. ExpressJet has flown regionally under the Continental Airlines banner.

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