United Airlines expects busiest travel day since start of COVID this Thanksgiving

FILE PHOTO: United Airlines planes are parked at their gates at O'Hare International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - United Airlines said Wednesday it expects to carry 5.5 million passengers during the Thanksgiving travel period, up about 12% over 2021.

The U.S. carrier will operate more than 3,700 flights per day on average during the Nov. 18-30 period. United forecasts it will carry about as many passengers over the holiday as the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

United also predicts Nov. 27 -- the Sunday after Thanksgiving -- will be its busiest travel day since before the pandemic with more than 460,000 passengers. United said it had added about 275 extra flights on Sunday to help accommodate this peak demand.

The Transportation Security Administration said in the week ending Tuesday it screened 14.9 million people, down slightly from the 15.3 million people screened in the same period in 2019.

The Transportation Department said Monday that U.S. August air passenger traffic was still down 8.6% over pre-pandemic levels -- 76.6 million passengers versus 83.8 million in August 2019.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski)