Air Travelers Should Prepare For Holiday Delays

Air travelers, get ready to linger at the airport this holiday season. A new analysis by USA Today finds the three-week period from mid-December through the New Years holiday is the most delay-prone time to be at the airport.

Usually, there is a 22.3% chance a flight will be late, cancelled or diverted nationwide--a number that shoots up to 33.4% during the winter holiday period.

This year, winter storms wreaking havoc on the Midwest will likely delay flights, while the usual rush of inexperienced travelers with children and extra luggage in tow are sure to clog security lines.

"It's the perfect storm," Greg Wells, senior vice president for operations at Southwest Airlines, tells the newspaper.

The Air Transport Association estimates the number of passengers hopping onboard flights during a 21-day period this holiday season will increase 3% from last year to 43.6 million.

But after combing through years of federal data and interviewing airport and airline officials, USA Today found, surprisingly, the holiday period may actually not be the busiest travel period of the year. Instead, there's evidence the busiest days for air travel occur during the summer.

Photo, kalleboo, flickr.
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