Tens of millions of people are expected to be on the move over the Independence Day Holiday. Not all will take to the air, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warns of crowds in airports, and airlines are preparing for a bumper week.
47 million go on the move across the United States
The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates 47.7 million people will be on the move in the United States over the holiday. They say it will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record. In order, the AAA reveals the top ten travel destinations over the holiday period are Orlando, FL, Anaheim, CA, Denver, CO, Las Vegas, NV, Seattle, WA, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, and Kahului, Maui, HI.
While millions will drive, many will fly. Airports are readying for crowds and delays. The top three busiest airports will be Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), respectively. However, expect crowds in Chicago. ORD will have 100,000 more departing seats than either LAX or DFW.
Government agencies see record passenger & flight numbers in the United States
The TSA screened 2,167,380 people through airport security checkpoints on Sunday, June 27. They say that’s the highest checkpoint volume the agency has seen since the beginning of the travel downturn. They warn several airports are already exceeding 2019 travel volumes, including Nashville International Airport (BNA) and Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR).
Just a few days beforehand, on June 24, the FAA said it saw the highest traffic in the national airspace system since the beginning of the pandemic, with 47,000 flights taking off over a 24 hour period. There are estimates daily passenger numbers could exceed 2.3 million over the holiday.
“It’s heartening to see the country taking to travel again and traveling to enjoy the weekend and celebrate our nation’s independence,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We continue to remind passengers to pack their patience and remain calm through the security checkpoint and onboard aircraft.”
“Get to the airport early,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein warns. “The best advice would be if you’re flying out of a larger airport, get there two hours early. For a small airport, maybe 90 minutes.”
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Independence Day Holiday shapes up as a test for the United States airlines
Fresh from some horror weekends of massive delays and cancelations, United States airlines are readying for a rush not seen since 2019. American Airlines plans to operate 5,500 flights a day this week. Southwest Airlines is offering its employees double time to work overtime this week. Last weekend, Southwest Airlines was hit by a wave of cancelations and delays.
The holiday weekend is shaping up to be a big test for United States airlines. Pilot shortages are a problem across the industry. Delta Air Lines suffered extensive cancelations and delays last Thanksgiving when the airline could not rustle up enough pilots to fly its scheduled flights.
While some cancelations and delays are inevitable, any significant problems this holiday weekend will call into question the airlines’ decision to let so many employees leave the industry over the last 15 months.
It will also undermine passenger confidence in the airline industry’s ability to meet periods of peak demand. Extensive cancelations will also cause people to ask why schedules are being boosted when airlines don’t necessarily have the resources to operate them, especially when there is a spike in workers calling in sick.
But with a bit of luck, that won’t happen. Instead, travelers passing through airports this weekend can enjoy the energy and good vibes of millions of people on the move.