A brutal winter for U.S. airlines is finally expected to warm up and deliver record passenger levels this spring according to the latest industry forecast.
Airlines for America, an industry trade group that represents the interests of nine domestic carriers, estimates more than 129 million people (2.1 million per day) will take domestic flights in March and April.
Another 17.1 million people are expected to board international flights with U.S. airlines this month and next.
"We attribute the increase in spring air travel to rising U.S. household net worth, an improving economy, and the affordability of air travel," said John Heimlich, Airlines for America vice president and chief economist.
If the forecasts hold up, it will be a much welcomed rebound after a terrible start to the year for airlines crippled by a series of snow storms and bitter cold.
So far this year, more than 78,000 flights have been canceled according to FlightAware.com.
Those cancellations have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars.
Best profits in years
2013: $7.4 Billion
2012: $132 Million
2011: $527 Million
2010: $2.24 Billion
2009: -$2.9 Billion
2008: -$24.5 Billion
Source: Airlines for America
Packed Planes Push 2013 Profits
The rough winter weather which started in December barely put a dent in one of the most profitable years ever for U.S. airlines.
In 2013, domestic carriers made a profit of $7.4 Billion, excluding special charges.
What fueled it was in large part the moderate price of jet fuel.
Meanwhile, the percentage of seats filled on airplanes stayed relatively high and airlines continued to collect several billion dollars in ancillary fees.
I always assumed I needed a cabin in the mountains, an ax or other weaponry draped over my shoulder, and a full beard in order to snowshoe. But as it happens, snowshoeing can be done by pretty much anyone, fairly cheaply. Find a local outdoor equipment rental supplier and snag yourself a pair of snowshoes for under $10.
Sledding has two perks that make it a perfect winter activity: 1. It's free (assuming you have a sled or a friend's you can borrow). 2. You're outside, but you're not cold, because all it takes is a couple of times climbing back up your favorite sledding hill, and you're breaking a sweat. And did you know that sledding is the cutest photo op for a family ever? Oops, that's three things.
There's no better way to enjoy winter than from the inside of your toasty warm car. And no December is complete without a self-guided tour of the best local Christmas lights. This list compiles some favorite spots across the country, but you can also Google the best displays in your area. And (added bonus), your children are strapped in for this activity, which should keep things simple and (relatively) drama-free.
Thanks to Pinterest, the DIY bug is more contagious than ever -- especially during the winter. If you're looking for a free way to unleash your inner Martha (or Marty, for you guys out there) Stewart, try out a free DIY workshop from home-improvement stores like The Home Depot or craft stores like Michaels. Other retailers are also getting in on the action, such as Apple, which hosted hour-long coding classes for children at their stores this week.
Get the thrill of the outdoors without the winter weather in the pleasant confines of an indoor rock gym. For the price of a movie and popcorn, you can get a day pass, learn how to belay friends and family safely, and scale to your heart's (and ripped forearms') content.
When winter gives you frozen lemons, make piping-hot lemonade -- and then swim in it. (That's the expression, right?) According to the National Geophysical Data Center, there are over 1,661 natural hot springs in the United States. However, most are out West. If you happen to live east of the Rockies, it's high time to make friends with a hot-tub owner.
Leave the fancy clubs and goofy-looking pants at home; this is poor man's golf. But don't let that fool you. It's a great game for beginners and Tiger Woods frisbee-ers alike. With public courses across the country and greens fees that are typically 100 percent cheaper than regular golf, you might completely forget about those clubs in your trunk come spring.
Going to a movie for a dollar might sound like something your grandparents did in simpler times, but believe it or not, you can still catch recent releases in theaters for just a buck or two. They're getting harder to find, but do yourself (and your budget) a favor by finding a local dollar theater this winter for some quality entertainment.