Lonely Planet Writer

This summer set to be a record breaker, as number of Americans taking flights hits a record high

It’s believed that this summer will break all records for flights taken within the United States. Industry trade group Airlines for America last week predicted some 231 million passengers will take to the skies over the three-month period between 1 June and 31 August.

Some 231 million people are expected to travel this summer
Some 231 million people are expected to travel this summer Image by Getty Images

That figure doesn’t necessarily mean 231 million people will fly, as one person can be a passenger several times over. But it is a new high – an increase of 4% over the 2015 figure. The reason for the boom, according to Airlines for America, is lower airfares. The reason for lower airfares is historic lows in the price of fuel.

The figure translates to about 2.5 million passengers per day. Averaged out over a 24-hour period, this means that, this summer, there will be more than 100,000 people airborne over the US at any given time – not to mention the flight crews.

San Francisco International Airport at dusk
San Francisco International Airport at dusk

That’s a lot of standing around in lines for airport security checks. The forecast has once again highlighted the issue of wait times at security checkpoints administered by the Transport Security Administration (TSA). Staff shortages have led to lines so long that at Chicago’s busy O’Hare airport last week American Airlines provided cots for passengers who’d missed their flights to sleep on.

In response, the TSA is encouraging passengers to apply for TSAPre, an “expedited security screening program” for pre-qualified passengers who are considered low-risk. TSAPre is available at more than 160 airports with 12 participating airlines.