Apparently, now is the time to fly.
Airlines for America has released impressive new predictions for the spring season—and they are breaking records. U.S. airlines expect 145 million passengers to fly around the world during the months of March and April. That number represents an increase of 4 percent from last year, which saw 140 million passengers take to the skies during spring.
To accommodate the additional demand of 89,000 more passengers each day, airlines are adding a whopping 110,000 seats per day. The growth can be attributed to several reasons, which Airlines for America VP and Chief Economist John Heimlich explains: “While historically low fares, reliable operations and several consecutive years of reinvestment in the product are the primary factors underlying this growth, a boost in U.S. employment and personal incomes and the highest-ever level of household net worth are also fueling the strong demand for air travel.”
Increased competition is driving fares down and demand up. Airlines have responded by adding new routes and upgrading their fleets to aircraft with greater fuel efficiency and more seats. In all of 2016, U.S. and foreign airlines combined to add 198 new routes. Even though the year has just begun, airlines have already added 151 new routes to their arsenals in 2017.
More travelers means more crowded airports
Naturally, this growth has affected airports as well. Airlines for America reports that airports of all sizes have seen increased traffic. Last summer, travelers experienced extra-long lines at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at major hubs such as Chicago-O’Hare International Airport. Missed flights, uncomfortable overnight stays at the airport and angry social media chatter reigned for several weeks as airline, airport and TSA officials vowed to fix the problem.
More hiring in the TSA, greater promotion of TSA Pre-Check and the introduction of expedited lines with advanced technology have helped to alleviate those issues, but these record-breaking numbers from Airlines for America may have travelers leaving extra early for the airport.