Airlines for America Forecasts 45.2 Million Travelers to Fly During 21-Day Winter Holiday Season

Airlines making 99,000 more seats per day available to accommodate
growth in holiday travel

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–View the infographic.

On the heels of one of the busiest forecasted Thanksgivings for air
travel, Airlines
for America
(A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S.
, today announced it is expecting 45.2 million passengers
will fly globally on U.S. airlines during the 21-day period from Friday,
Dec. 16 through Thursday, Jan. 5, an increase of 3.5 percent over last
year. By adding flights and using larger planes, airlines will offer
99,000 additional seats per day across their networks to accommodate the
73,000 more daily passengers expected to travel over the holidays, an
increase of 3.9 percent over last year. U.S. airlines will also add
extra staff to accommodate the millions of holiday travelers.

“As we saw over Thanksgiving, U.S. airlines are well positioned to
handle the increase in passengers expected this holiday season,” said
Airlines for America Vice President and Chief Economist John
. “Airlines’ concerted and well-coordinated efforts over
Thanksgiving helped ensure the traditional holiday rush was as smooth as
could be for fliers, resulting in shorter security wait times and
noticeable higher on-time performance rates. We expect to see much of
the same this winter holiday travel season.”

For the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, airlines posted a 99.4
percent flight completion factor and an on-time arrival rate of 84.5

“An improving economy and reduced airfares remain the driving force
behind the growth seen in air travel,” continued Heimlich.

A4A expects the busiest travel days of the 21-day period to be Thursday,
Dec. 22 and Friday, Dec. 23, while the lightest travel days are expected
to be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Passenger volumes are expected to vary widely, ranging from as low as
1.8 million on the lightest days to 2.4 million on the busiest. On
average, U.S. airlines carry approximately 2.2 million passengers per
day throughout the year.

The busiest airports by seats during the travel period are expected to
be Atlanta (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas/Fort
Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), Charlotte (CLT), Houston (IAH), New York
(JFK), San Francisco (SFO) and Phoenix (PHX).

U.S. passenger airlines rolling out enhanced aircraft, airport

The U.S. airline industry in recent years has undertaken a wide array of
efforts to offer passengers customized and innovative options to enhance
the travel experience. Holiday travelers heading to airports can look
forward to automated security screening lanes, newly renovated lounges,
luggage tracking systems and refurbished and new aircraft that include
lie-flat seat options and gourmet in-flight meal selections.

“Improving finances have enabled U.S. airlines to reinvest significantly
in the customer experience, as we’ve seen firsthand with newly installed
automated security screening lanes and the continued deployment of new
aircraft,” continued Heimlich.


Annually, commercial aviation helps drive $1.5 trillion in U.S. economic
activity and more than 10 million U.S. jobs. Airlines for America (A4A)
vigorously advocates on behalf of the American airline industry as a
model of safety, customer service and environmental responsibility and
as the indispensable network that drives our nation’s economy and global

America needs a cohesive National Airline Policy that will support the
integral role the nation’s airlines play in connecting people and goods
globally, spur the nation’s economic growth and create more high-paying
jobs. A4A works collaboratively with the airlines, labor groups,
Congress and the Administration to improve air travel for everyone.

For more information about the airline industry, visit our website and
our blog, A Better Flight Plan, at
us on Twitter: @airlinesdotorg.
us on Facebook:
us on Instagram:

To learn how you can support a National Airline Policy, a better flight
plan for everyone, visit


Airlines for America (A4A)
Grannis Allen
Managing Director, Airline Industry Public Relations
and Communications
Managing Director, Government and Regulatory Communications
Senior Vice President, Communications