Airlines for America (A4A) is predicting solid winter holiday travel demand, driven by a recovering economy and air travel that continues to be a bargain, as nearly 42 million passengers will fly between Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, and Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013.
A4A reports total passenger volumes represent a slight reduction of less than 1 percent or about 300,000 passengers over the three-week period. Planes are expected to be about 85 percent full over the period, and the busiest days could reach 90 percent, as carriers have better matched seating capacity to demand to cope with record fuel prices and other rising costs, A4A says.
Daily passenger volumes are expected to range from 1.5 million to 2.3 million. The busiest days will occur on the weekend preceding Christmas (Dec. 21-23, 2012), the day after Christmas (Dec. 26, 2012) and Jan. 2, 2013.
Carrier websites should be the “go to” source for airline passengers to register to receive electronic flight status updates, and check-in and print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport, A4A says. Passengers are also reminded to allow adequate time to get to the airport and for security screening. Additional travel tips can also be found on the A4A Passenger Travel Tips webpage.
“U.S. carriers are reporting strong bookings relative to capacity this winter holiday period,” said A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich. “This is a great time to travel, as carriers are staffed to accommodate the influx of holiday travelers and airfares remain a bargain, having significantly trailed U.S. inflation.”
While average airfares have risen modestly year over year, the price of air travel has not kept pace with overall U.S. inflation. Heimlich noted that in real terms it costs 14 percent less to fly today than it did in 2000.