This spring, the airline industry is expecting a record number of passengers


It’s out with Winter Storm Stella and in with spring. The new season ushers in daffodils (redux), fresh asparagus and travelers dressed in shorts and flip-flops. Watch those toes.

In a recent spring travel forecast, Airlines for America expects a record number of passengers to fly in March and April. The industry association is anticipating 145 million fliers, or about 2.4 million people per day, during the school vacation period — a 4 percent rise from last year. (Trivia question: What was the slowest year since 2000? Hint: It was the same year a court convicted Winona Ryder of grand theft and vandalism.)

To meet the growing demand, U.S. airlines are adding 110,000 seats per day with larger planes and new nonstop routes. In 2010, less than half of domestic aircraft contained more than 100 seats; now, 55 percent do — good news for people who don’t enjoy feeling like a Lego person in a toy plane. Since last year, airlines have introduced 349 new itineraries, such as Reagan National to Providence, R.I., on Southwest. On the flip side, they have discontinued 295 routes, such as United’s flight from Cleveland to Las Vegas.

The report shared some other juicy gumdrops as well. For instance, airfare has dropped nearly $30 since 2014, and fees are up by less than 40 cents. Surprising, I know.

Though complaining about air travel is as much an American pastime as criticizing the DMV, the Department of Transportation did report some praiseworthy improvements. In 2016, U.S. airlines properly handled 99.73 percent of bags, a record high. The carriers also completed 99 percent of their flights (the best since 1992), with 81 percent of flights arriving on time, a success rate not witnessed since 2012. And less than one passenger (.62) per 10,000 was involuntarily denied boarding — which roughly calculates to one freshman spring breaker per season.

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