The Air Transport Association (ATA) expects 43.6 million passengers to travel on U.S. carriers over the upcoming winter holidays, up approximately 3 percent from the 42.3 million passengers estimated to have flown during the same period in 2009.
Daily passenger volumes are expected to range from 1.7 million to 2.3 million during the holiday. The busiest days are expected to be Dec. 21 through Dec. 23, Dec. 26 through Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, based on sample data from the 2009 winter holiday period. On the busiest days, average load factors may approach 90 percent, the ATA reported.
“With demand for air travel showing signs of improvement, airlines are hoping to see industry profitability continue into 2011,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “A sustained return of industry profits would enable the kind of investment that will benefit air transportation for the long term, which would help everyone.”
ATA is expecting the federal government, once again, to open up Special Activity Airspace (SAS) on an as-needed basis to help ease congestion, especially as the industry faces winter weather. SAS also was made available over the Thanksgiving holiday.
May encouraged passengers to pack light, to check their flight status before leaving for the airport, and to remember to arrive early to allow plenty of time for check-in and security screening.
In addition, ATA encourages passengers to consult its resource page for recommended travel tips. In particular, passengers are encouraged to keep in mind the following:
• It is strongly recommended that all passengers review the website of the airline on which they are flying for respective policies, amenities, customer-service plans and flight-operation alert notifications.
• If reservations were made prior to Nov. 1, passengers should contact their airline or booking source 72 hours prior to arriving at the airport to ensure their full name, date of birth, gender, and Redress number (if applicable) are included as part of their reservations as required by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Secure Flight program.
• Download the MyTSA mobile application for airport status and screening checkpoint wait times, information on the 3-1-1 Rule for liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on bags, as well as the handling of food/gifts.
• Pack any gifts unwrapped, as they may need to be inspected by security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also providing additional Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers online.