As the holiday season approaches, both Delta and United Airlines are gearing up for an exceptionally busy period, with each anticipating around 9 million passengers during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
United Airlines is forecasting its “busiest-ever end of year holiday travel season,” expecting approximately 9 million passengers, which reflects a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year. This surge is anticipated to occur from December 21 through January 8, according to information shared with Travel + Leisure. Notably, United projects a higher volume of travelers during the Christmas holiday compared to Thanksgiving, which also witnessed record-breaking traffic.
Similarly, Delta Air Lines anticipates nearly 9 million travelers flying with the carrier from December 21 to January 7, focusing on the “peak travel days” of December 21, December 22, and from December 26 to December 30.
Mike Spanos, Chief Operating Officer at Delta, expressed confidence in delivering a top-notch experience for customers during the holidays, stating, “With a successful November and Thanksgiving operation behind us, Delta people are prepared to deliver a world-class experience for our customers over the holidays. Together, our global team and partners will safely and reliably connect millions of people as they celebrate the season.”
American Airlines also projects a bustling holiday period, estimating that more than 12 million customers will fly with the airline from December 20 to January 8.
Beyond the anticipated increase in passengers, the airlines are highlighting their operational efficiency, a notable departure from last year’s Southwest Airlines Christmas disruptions, which saw thousands of canceled flights during one of the busiest travel times.
United reported its second-best on-time performance for the Thanksgiving period this year, with 75.8 percent of flights departing on time. Delta experienced only 12 flight cancellations during the same period. American Airlines boasted the “fewest Thanksgiving cancellations in American’s history” and the “best systemwide on-time departure and arrival performance since 2017.”
Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan acknowledged last year’s challenges but expressed readiness for the upcoming busy holidays, stating, “We are ready for the winter, absolutely ready.”