New York's airports count passenger departures and arrivals. Each departure and arrival is further classified as international or domestic. If a CDG to JFK passenger clears immigration, I would expect the international-arrival counter to increment.

If said passenger immediately continues to make a connecting flight to JAX, Question: Is there any reason why the domestic-departure counter would not be incremented?

Update: Passenger counting methods are critical to airport planning, which ensures that service & resource capacity is matched to demand (indicated by counting). The discussion (Q&A) and dissemination of travel metrics serve to improve travel. The passenger is only one stakeholder in the travel process: if you want your systems to work for you then maybe questions from travel providers should be considered.

Any questions or comments, that serve to clarify the question, are appreciated.

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    Without knowing who the Port Authority counts (for instance, perhaps only passengers arriving at the airport from landside are counted for departures), this question is impossible to answer. – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 26 '19 at 4:45
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    A lot of data like this comes from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (see also this page under "traffic"), which has rigorously defined standards for how everything is supposed to be counted. – Zach Lipton Nov 26 '19 at 4:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as unclear, as I don't see a clearly defined question within the scope of the site – JonathanReez Nov 26 '19 at 6:34
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    I am not sure what the speed at which you walk through the terminal has to do with counting passengers. Can you ask your real question, or, why you need to know how passengers are counted? – Burhan Khalid Nov 26 '19 at 14:02
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    I don't know for certain, but I would bet heavily that this data is obtained from the airlines, who certainly know exactly how many people boarded each flight. So it makes no difference at all how your hypothetical passenger reaches their flight, since they would be counted when they pass through the departure gate, not at any intermediate point. – Nate Eldredge Nov 26 '19 at 17:54

Where the report counts “passengers” it means passenger movements. Every time a passenger arrives or departs by air constitutes a passenger movement. A transit passenger makes two movements, one when arriving and one when departing. In your example you would be noted as one arriving international passenger and one departing domestic passenger.


I think it is evident from data in the report that numbers are calculated as above. Let us look at commercial passenger traffic data for JFK from 2017.

The reported number of passengers is domestic inbound + domestic outbound + international inbound + international outbound. 13,534,099 + 13,426,982 + 16,400,104 + 16,031,315 = 59,392,500. The number of passengers is clearly just the sum of arriving passengers plus departing passengers. [page 43]

When comparing JFK with other airports in the world, the same total is used, 59,392,500 passengers, putting JFK at 22nd place, well behind Dubai at 3rd, which is known for being completely dominated by transfer passengers. Transfer passengers must be included in this number, which in turn is arrivals plus departures. [page 28]

Also when listing airlines by passenger numbers, which would hardly exclude transfer passengers, the grand total is the same. [page 41]

  • This answer seems quite correct, but some sources to back it up would improve it immensely. – phoog Nov 26 '19 at 20:23
  • I have added an explanation. – Arne Nov 27 '19 at 20:08

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