A Record-Breaking 246.1 Million Travelers Expected to Fly This Summer

On Wednesday, the industry trade organization Airlines for America (A4A) predicted that a record-breaking 246.1 million travelers will catch a flight this summer.

Up nearly 4% from last year, A4A noted that increasingly affordable airfares and an “all-time high of more than three million daily seats departing from US airports on a daily basis” are likely the cause of the rapid growth in air travel.

“It’s a great time to fly, as evidenced by the historically low airfares passengers are taking advantage of this summer season,” A4A spokesperson Sarah Soulier told The Points Guy.  

“Today’s passengers are extremely price sensitive,” she added, “[and] airlines have responded to this market demand by introducing fares and pricing options that fit all budgets, allowing more people than ever to take to the skies on US airlines.”

A4A used historical data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in conjunction with published airline schedules to determine the number of people expected to fly with US airlines this summer.

Though A4A doesn’t forecast air travel numbers for specific weekends, the spokesperson told TPG that they “expect Thursdays and Fridays from mid-June to mid-August to be particularly busy.”

“In 2017, 22 of the 25 busiest air travel days of the year were during the summer travel season,” she added.

If traveling with more than 246.1 million other people sounds, well, kind of horrifying, there are a few ways travelers can try to avoid the summer crowds.

Travelers with access to more than one airport, for example, may want to book flights out of less busy hubs. In April, Airports Council International released a new passenger traffic report for the world’s busiest airports — and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) took the No. 1 spot (not just for the US, but for the entire world) in 2017.

Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago’s O’Hare International (ORD) took the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively.

The fifth-busiest domestic airport (No. 12 on the overall list), Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW), is also one of the most notorious airports in the nation for summertime departure delays.

Though not as busy, TPG predicts that, based on historical data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Newark Liberty International (EWR) will be two of the worst airports in the nation for on-time departures this summer.

Travelers will also have more luck avoiding crowds — and arriving to your summer vacation on time — by booking the first flight out. A recent Air Travel Consumer Report (albeit from February) supported the commonly held frequent flyer conviction that it’s better to fly early in the morning.

In February, for example, 92.7% of flights scheduled between 6:00am and 7:00am at major US airports left on time, worsening by the hour until only 73.9% of flights scheduled between 6:00pm and 7:00pm were departing on time.

Featured image by by Scott Olson/Getty Images.