The July Fourth holiday week will mean higher jet fuel costs for airlines and a bumpy ride for travelers on the roads and in the air. Planes in the U.S. are getting close to full while more drivers are using their vehicles.
The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics expects 1.2 million travelers to use air transportation on Wednesday, July 4. It’s the busiest travel day this year. The agency’s air travel statistics are based on a survey in which travelers answer a questionnaire filled out at pre-arranged locations. The poll does not include trips by commercial buses, trucks or trains.
And it looks like a very crowded ride: Passenger traffic into U.S. airports reached its highest levels since 2013 in April, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. A record 1.23 billion passengers flew domestically in April, up nearly 9 percent from a year earlier.
“As the month progresses, passenger loads will likely climb as a result of higher passenger demand,” Ron Rienas, the senior vice president for customer experience at United Airlines, told USA Today.
This July Fourth isn’t the only time that travel is expected to be off this year, as the summer travel season has started off on a less-than-stellar note. The average airfare has gone up nearly 8 percent compared to last year, and that’s on top of price increases of 5 percent in April and May. Things are even worse on the roads. There are more Americans who are driving this July 4th than last year — a record number of 76.89 million people. (However, the holiday is a shortened weekend, so it is projected to generate around a half-million fewer people in the States than last year.)
Increased traffic into the U.S. on Wednesday will probably result in an uptick in the number of flight delays and cancellations, according to InsideFlyer.com. The prediction of a 1.2 million passenger-vehicle mix is an increase of about 5 percent from last year. And AirTran Airways Airlines canceled around 140 flights on Tuesday and will likely cancel more on Wednesday as well. Southwest Airlines also announced Tuesday that it would allow for one-day and three-day change on tickets issued within 72 hours of travel, so passengers can avoid traveling to areas with high-rates of air and vehicle accidents on Tuesday and Wednesday.
About 44 percent of flights will be on time on Wednesday, while about 38 percent of flights will be canceled, according to FlightAware.com.
This Wednesday, July 4, 2018, traffic will be heavily concentrated in the Northeast, and airports in New York City will be near capacity and might experience cancellations and delays, according to Travel.com. The New York City-area airports of LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy may be among the busiest, while airlines expect about 50-percent of flights in and out of Boston’s Logan Airport to be on time, which is good but not good enough. (The Boston Logan Airport, for its part, will likely see around 6 percent of the airline’s flight schedules canceled or delayed.)
Travel should be fine up in the Rockies, where the traffic peaks only every other year, according to a Google Analytics analysis. The busiest time will be July 4 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. MDT in Denver, where the traffic will be about 16 percent heavier than it would be during off-peak hours. According to the analysis, the busiest travel hour in Denver will be between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. MDT.
Read more at Refinery29.
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