In this week’s roundup, Christmas-New Year’s air travel volume is expected to be almost back to pre-COVID levels as airlines and airports gear up for heavy crowds; a study by Forbes Advisor ranks San Francisco International as the seventh-worst U.S. airport for holiday travel while San Jose’s, Oakland’s and Sacramento’s are among the best; United places a huge order for new 787s, which will dominate its international fleet in the years to come; Cathay Pacific eyes a revival of its global network as Hong Kong ends its toughest COVID entry restrictions; United adds more SFO-Sydney flights and Delta kicks off a Tahiti route from LAX; there’s domestic route news from American, Avelo and United; American and JetBlue announce an expansion of their Northeast Alliance even as a federal judge ponders its future; American’s peak season schedule includes several suspended international routes; American will make significant changes to its AAdvantage loyalty program next year; JetBlue signs on an exclusive streaming partner for its in-flight entertainment; and Delta makes it easier for SkyMiles elite members to request upgrades during booking.
Airline passenger numbers over the Thanksgiving holiday period were just about back to pre-pandemic levels, and it looks like the Christmas-New Year’s period will be equally crowded. AAA said this week in its annual holiday forecast that it expects 7.17 million Americans to take to the air between Dec. 23 to Jan. 2. That’s 14% more than last year and just a hair under the 7.33 million who flew over the holidays in 2019. “Flights and airports will be packed this holiday season, reminiscent of pre-pandemic days. Demand for flights has surged despite higher airline ticket prices,” AAA said. The nation’s largest carrier, American Airlines, said that its busiest days over the upcoming holiday period will be Dec. 16 and Dec. 22, when it will operate more than 5,500 flights on each day; the lightest travel day will be Christmas Day, with 3,800 scheduled departures.
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