In preparation for a hectic winter travel season, United Airlines stated on Thursday that it is planned its busiest domestic schedule since 2019.
According to United Airlines, the company expects strong holiday travel this year, with a 16 percent rise in winter travel searches on its website and mobile app compared to the same time last year.
In order to meet the increased demand, the airline has scheduled approximately 3,500 daily domestic departures in December, accounting for 91 percent of the flights offered in 2019.
While the itinerary is subject to change, United expects the busiest Thanksgiving travel days to be Wednesday, November 24, and Sunday, November 28. Meanwhile, Thursday, December 23, and Sunday, January 2 are predicted to be the busiest winter travel days.
“We’re seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow.
We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we’re thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together,” said United’s vice president of network planning and scheduling Ankit Gupta.
The airline intends to reintroduce flights that were discontinued during the pandemic, as well as to add new ones, with the goal of connecting the Midwest to warm-weather towns and providing greater service to ski resorts around the United States.
Direct flights from Cleveland to Las Vegas and Phoenix, as well as Indianapolis to Orlando, are among the new services to warm-weather locations.
United also intends to reintroduce eight nonstop routes from the Midwest to Florida, including Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, and Fort Lauderdale. In addition, the airline will resume four popular routes from Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Fort Myers beginning in winter 2020.
Overall, the airline will offer up to 195 daily departures to 12 Florida cities, representing the most flights offered to the Sunshine State in the company’s history.
Skiers will have roughly 70 daily flight options, including a fresh new route from John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, to Aspen. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Bozeman, Montana are also popular vacation spots.
While United’s schedule may be the busiest in almost a year, the airline is still not near capacity, and the TSA does not anticipate screening as many people as it did in 2019.
“While we do expect travel volume to increase during Thanksgiving week, specifically on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (28 Nov) we are not expecting to reach the 2.8+ million number we saw in 2019.
Screening times vary for numerous reasons and vary by airport, so it’s almost impossible to give specific screening time predictions.
However, we’re very confident that TSA officers will meet the challenge of screening millions of passengers on their way to and from their holiday destinations,” TSA spokesperson Daniel Velez told Insider.
Amosphere Research Group President and Travel Industry Analyst Henry Harteveldt stated that United’s schedule will provide travelers with more options.
“United’s added flights will provide holiday travelers with more options. What we’ll need to see is how other airlines respond, which, given the calendar, needs to be soon as people are starting to focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year travel.
More flights mean more seats, and more seats generally translates into lower airfares,” he said.