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Lumo’s Holiday 2018 Travel Forecast

Delays on the busiest US routes during the December 2017 holiday travel season.

It’s shaping up to be another busy holiday travel season, with 45.7 million passengers expected to travel on US airlines between December 20 and January 6.

The busiest travel days of the season are typically the Thursday and Friday preceding Christmas (December 20 and 21 in 2018), and the day after Christmas (December 26). As people board flights around the world – often headed for warmer climes—the possibility of winter weather threatens to disrupt their journeys. The record high load factors (a measure of how “full” a flight is) make it difficult for disrupted passengers to be re-accommodated once a flight has been delayed or cancelled.

At Lumo, we took a closer look at the top 20 busiest routes in the US in December 2017, accounting for the number of passengers and the average load factor. All of these routes had load factors of at least 93% that month: San Juan to Fort Lauderdale (SJU-FLL) had an average load factor of 97%; and Los Angeles to Orlando (LAX-MCO) had an average load factor of 93%. The table at right shows the average flight delays on each of these routes on some key dates—December 16, 17 and 25 (the “lightest” travel days of the season), and December 21, 22 and 26 (the peak travel days of the season).

The confluence of events means that sometimes we get unlucky (there was significant snow in the US Northeast on December 25-26), and sometimes things could have been much worse (the power outage at Atlanta airport on December 17, as bad as it was, could have had an even worse impact had it been on a peak travel day). Air travelers in Europe felt the pain of winter weather on December 20-21, when poor visibility caused significant delays at London, Amsterdam, Manchester and Oslo.

And while we can’t predict power outages before they happen, Lumo can predict delays caused by weather, congestion and many other factors—so check us out before you travel this year!

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