# On average how many human beings are airborne at any given time

I’m not sure what day is the most popular day to fly. I was think the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but of course, that’s just an American holiday, so that can’t be it.

In any case, I wasn’t able to figure it out the maximum number of people flying after a cursory google search and was wondering if anyone had any idea. I can’t find it right now but I once saw a sped up mapping of all planes in the air and it’s interesting to watch when plane activity is highest (typically mornings and evenings) and you can see the activity shift depending on where it is daytime around the world.

Yeah, just tried googling this too and it’s not so simple.

I just thought I’d suggest that the busiest period may well be during a chinese holiday.
For example there is a week-long public holiday* for chinese new year and a strong cultural imperative to travel to one’s hometown at this point. For about 300 million people that means traveling to another province.
Most such journeys are via train, but regardless there is a vast number of additional flights at this time.

• Before I give an impression of overly generous chinese holidays: it’s 7 days including the weekend, and the week is also followed and preceded by 6 day work weeks.

To include people on commercial, private, military flights. To include non motorised airborne activities like paragliding, parasailing parachute jumps, balloon flights etc.

To not include fairground aerial rides, people diving at swimming pools, sports activities that include high jumps etc.:smack:

The vast bulk will be aboard passenger airliners. Everything else combined will be a rounding error by comparison.

So that’s 18,000 * 1.2 * 0.3 * 150 * 0.85 = 918,000. This number has error bars of about +/- 15%.

Woah…approx a million humans are airborne at any give time. Astonishing. Thanks

One million out of seven billion is not much, I expected higher.

Merged two threads on a similar question.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Quite a few may be higher, but they are not all flying aboard aircraft.

Does hopping count?

If you add people waitng at airports, it’s a lot higher

Only if you’re on a tread… never mind. (We need a ‘shame’ emoticon.) Finally, an answer to a question that I have been wondering about for years. About ten years ago I wrote a term paper for an honors statistics course I was taking, in which I analyzed every single passenger airliner fatality dating back to 1956. Since then, every time the subject of airline safety comes up, I always say something like “there are probably more people in the air over the United States alone at this very instant than have ever been killed in a major plane crash. Now I can finally back that assertion up with hard numbers. Not only is it true, but it’s an astronomically higher number than I ever expected. Now I’ll have to go back and read the paper again and see what the actual ratio is. Just hazarding a guess from memory, there are probably at least 20 or 30 times more people flying over the continental United States right now than have died as a result of a plane crash involving a major commercial airline.

I saw a map once showing all the planes in the air over the continental U.S. at the time the FAA ordered the skies cleared on 9-11. I was amazed at just how many planes were up on what was otherwise a typical September weekday.

My WAG was a worldwide number. You’d need to back that off by half or so to be US-only.

Here you go. Live real time: http://flightaware.com/live/

The stats at the bottom say they’ve got 10K aircraft airborne now and 80K flights in the last 24 hours.

Thanks, that’s an astonishing number. 1 out of every 8000 people.

That’s an excellent guess for highest number of flights.

So far the Chinese airline industry is not as big as the US one. Assuming current trends, that won’t be true for too many more years.

Sarcasm? I was just trying to provide an extra lead at the point where no-one had responded to the OP (and note two threads have merged).

According to this site though, there are over 1.1 million seats daily during chinese new year. Now that’s daily, not simultaneously, but I think it’s enough to likely make this the peak period being as we’re currently estimating the typical number of simultaneous flyers at around 900,000.

Oh, forgot to say that you can at least see the number of live flights here.
8,560 when I just checked, so if 150 passengers per plane and 85% loading, that gives 1.09 million.

Unfortunately the site doesn’t provide a stat on highest number of flights seen (at least not that I can find)

Not sarcasm.

Similar to what I remember. Thanks. Still quite amazing.