Scheduled domestic capacity within the US during Thanksgiving week is down by just 2% on pre-pandemic levels, despite the number of flights being more than 11% lower.
Analysis of data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that the overall number of domestic seats will be about 17.9 million during the week commencing Nov. 21 across 138,221 flights. This compares with 18.3 million seats and 156,512 flights during Thanksgiving week three years ago.
Although overall capacity is marginally down on 2019, airlines in the US intend to operate 1% more seats on Thursday and 13.4% more on Friday. The 17.9 million figure also represents a 4.2% increase on last year.
Southwest Airlines will offer the most US domestic capacity during the 2022 Thanksgiving week with 3.99 million seats, giving the carrier a 22.3% market share. American Airlines ranks second with 3.69 million seats, followed by Delta Air Lines with 3.42 million, United Airlines with 2.7 million and Alaska Airlines with 930,000.
In terms of scheduled US domestic flight frequencies, American tops the list with 29,713 flights. Delta is second with 25,841, Southwest third with 25,404, United fourth with 22,887 and Alaska Airlines completes the top five with 6,964.
Looking at the busiest airports, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) has the most scheduled available domestic departure seats this week. In total there are 948,542 seats on offer, down by 5.7% on Thanksgiving week in 2019.
Denver (DEN) has 753,394 US domestic seats available in second place, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth in third with 679,348. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Las Vegas (LAS) complete the top five with 633,505 and 581,964 respectively.
The figures come as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it expects to screen as many as 2.5 million passengers on busy days like Wednesday, Nov. 23, and on Sunday, Nov. 27. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday are typically the busiest travel days.
TSA recorded the heaviest passenger volume in its history on the Sunday following Thanksgiving in 2019, when officers screened nearly 2.9 million people.
As reported by Aviation Week, air travel volumes in the US are expected to rise by almost 8%—or 330,000 passengers—from 2021 levels to around 4.5 million passengers between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27. The forecast from the American Automotive Association brings this year’s total to about 99% of 2019 levels.