US airlines to add 91,000 extra seats per day over Christmas

US airlines are projected to carry more than 50 million passengers over the winter holiday travel period, with 91,000 additional seats per day on offer.

About 51 million passengers are expected to fly globally on US airlines over the 21-day winter holiday travel period, according to a report by Airlines for America (A4A).

The industry organisation said the projected figure for the period from 15 December 2017 to 4 January 2018 is a 3.5 percent increase on the 49.3 million estimated to have flown last year.

Airlines will offer 91,000 additional seats per day across their networks to accommodate the 80,000 additional daily passengers expected to travel over the holidays.

According to figures from OAG, the top five US airlines by capacity are expected to add more than one million seats this holiday period, compared with 16 December 2016 – 5 January 2017. Of the five, United Airlines will add the most capacity with an additional 341,396 seats on offer.

Total capacity of top five US airlines (15 December 2017 to 4 January 2018 vs 16 December 2016 – 5 January 2017):


2017 holiday travel

period seat capacity

2016 holiday travel

period seat capacity

% change

American Airlines




Delta Air Lines




Southwest Airlines




United Airlines




JetBlue Airways








“With affordable fares and expanded route options, flying to see family, friends and loved ones this holiday season is more accessible than ever before,” said A4A vice-president and chief economist John Heimlich.

“Intense competition within the airline industry is enabling passengers to choose the flights that most closely match their preferences and budgets.”

A4A expects the busiest travel days of the 21-day period to be 21 December, 22 December and 26 December, while the lightest travel days are expected to be 16 December, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. 

Passenger volumes are expected to vary widely, ranging from just below two million on the lightest days to more than 2.7 million on the busiest. In 2016, US airlines carried an average of 2.25 million passengers per day over the 21-day period.

Routes Americas 2021

The route development forum for the Americas
Bogotá, Colombia  9 - 11 February 2021

Find out more

Share this article

The economic impact of hosting World Routes

Request your copy of the Economic Impact Study to learn more about the long-term growth effects your airport or destination can benefit from by hosting World Routes in 2023, the next available hosting year for World Routes.

Request Economic Impact Study