In another sign that demand is surging for U.S. domestic travel, United Airlines plans to operate 91% of its December 2019 schedule in December 2021, which would make it the busiest month since the pandemic began.
United Airlines Sees Surge In Demand, Plans December 2021 Schedule With 3,500 Domestic Flights Per Day
United says searches for travel are up 16% on its website or app compared to 2019 levels. With future bookings healthy and showing signs of further growth, United will offer an ambitious flight schedule in December.
While demand is approaching 2019 levels, it is a different kind of demand in 2021. Business travel remains depressed and United will focus on leisure destinations, including:
- Connecting the Midwest to warm weather cities
- Offering nearly 70 daily flights to ski destinations
- Resuming point-to-point routes between non-hub cities in Florida and the Midwest
In total, United will offer 3,500 daily domestic flights in December, the most since March 2020 before the world shut down.
Ankit Gupta, United’s Vice President of Network Planning and Scheduling, said:
“We’re seeing a lot of pent-up demand in our data and are offering a December schedule that centers on the two things people want most for the holidays: warm sunshine and fresh snow. We know families and friends are eager to reunite this holiday season, which is why we’re thrilled to add new flights that will help them connect and celebrate together.”
Most routes are prior routes that are resuming, but United has announced a handful of new routes including new service between Orange County (SNA) and Aspen (ASE).
Meanwhile, international travel remains depressed, though there is hope that stronger transatlantic demand will return once Europen citizens are once again able to directly enter the Untied States from Europe, starting on November 8th.
> Read More: U.S. Relaxes European, UK Travel Restrictions
Healthy demand has returned to U.S. domestic travel, but it still does not look like 2019. United is responding to the increased demand by offering its most robust domestic schedule in December since the pandemic began.
Do note something to keep in mind for 2022: if business travel suddenly returns, we will see U.S. flights more crowded than we ever have, which will likely mean higher fares and certainly mean full planes and harder upgrades. Enjoy this reprieve, while it lasts.