Travel expected to surge in December, United Airlines says


(WASHINGTON) — United Airlines expects travel to surge in December as more people look to get away for the holidays.

“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,” Ankit Gupta, vice president of network planning and scheduling at United, said in a press release.

To meet the demand, United plans to fly 3,500 daily domestic flights in the last month of the year — making it the airline’s largest schedule since the start of the pandemic. In comparison, United flew just 649 flights in a single day in April 2020.

“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,” Gupta said.

In December, United will begin offering new direct flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix from Cleveland, and to Orlando from Indianapolis. United will offer up to 195 daily flights to 12 destinations in Florida this winter, the most flights to the state in company history. The carrier will also have 66 daily flights to over a dozen ski destinations across the U.S. in its schedule.

The airline expects the busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday to be Wednesday, Nov. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 28. United said popular days for winter holiday travel are expected to be Thursday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 2.

If you’re looking to travel over the holidays and have not booked yet, experts say now is the time.

“We expect that prices will remain relatively low until about Halloween, so that’s kind of the day where if you know you get to Halloween, that’s when you should definitely book if you haven’t booked yet,” Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper, said in an interview with ABC News. “Because after Halloween, we’re expecting prices for Thanksgiving to start rising about 40% for domestic and international flights for Christmas.”

After Halloween, Hopper said travelers should expect domestic fares to spike 40% leading up to Thanksgiving week, and an additional 25% for any last-minute flights.

ABC News’ Sam Sweeney contributed to this report.

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