United Airlines plans 3,500 domestic flights per day for December, a pandemic peak
Anticipating many vacation trips, United Airlines said Thursday it would offer 3,500 daily flights to the United States in December, the highest number of any month since the start of the pandemic.
United said they plan to offer 91% domestic flights in December compared to the same month in 2019, although the company’s final schedule may still change. This month, United will launch new direct routes – and restart a handful more.
The airline plans to focus on flights connecting the Midwest to hot destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando or transporting travelers to the ski slopes. Flight searches for vacation travel were up 16% from the same period in 2019, the airline said.
“We’re seeing strong pent-up demand in our data and come up with a December calendar focused on the two things people want most for the holidays: hot sun and fresh snow,” said Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning. and planning at United.
United and other airlines have enjoyed strong demand this summer due to widespread vaccinations, although the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus slowed that momentum in the fall. The industry had hoped business travel would pick up again after Labor Day, but many professionals have not returned to their offices full-time and business travel remains on the decline.
Overall, air travel appears to have stabilized at around 75% of 2019 levels in September, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration. The Biden administration’s plan to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated foreigners starting next month should give another boost, especially during the holidays.
United have said they expect the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holidays to be particularly busy. He also expects Thursday, December 23 and Sunday, January 2 to be popular travel days.