US airlines to set new record over Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019
Photo: O'Hare International Airport.

US airlines are expected to achieve a new daily record on December 1 when 3.1 million passengers will travel as part of a busy Thanksgiving period.

The industry is expecting 31.6 million passengers to travel over the 12 days traditionally seen as the Thanksgiving holiday period, up 3.7 percent on last year.

Experts are attributing the increase to a healthy US economy giving people more disposable income to travel.

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Industry group Airlines for America (A4A) calculates US airlines are adding 859 flights a day, boosting capacity by 108,000 seats to take care of an average of 93,000 additional daily passengers.

Not surprisingly, the day of Thanksgiving will be the lightest travel period as Americans sit down with their families for the traditional turkey lunch.

“The popularity of air travel continues to soar this holiday season, as airlines and airports alike continue to invest billions of dollars into improving the quality of the experience and the efficiency of their operations,” said A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich.

American Airlines, which expects to carry 7.5 million customers over Thanksgiving, is advising passengers to arrive 1.5 hours before their flight for US domestic travel and two hours ahead of their flight if traveling internationally.

American’s departures will rise to 7046 on December 1, well ahead of the daily average of 6800, but fall to 3254 on Thanksgiving day.

However, it may not be all smooth sailing.

Severe weather that has already affected thousands of flights is expected to remain a problem over the weekend.

Plane tracking website FlightAware said more than 4000 flights were canceled or delayed by weather during Wednesday.

“The weather pattern remains in a very active mode going into the Thanksgiving holiday and holiday weekend,’’ the US National Weather Service said.

“Widespread Winter weather, flash flood and wind watches, warnings and advisories are currently in effect from the National Weather Service across large portions of the nation.’’