Airlines say they’re ready for a super-charged summer season. Are travelers?

Memorial Day weekend was busy at Denver International Airport and beyond and airlines are gearing up for more big crowds this summer.

United Airlines had its biggest-ever Memorial Day weekend and expects the rest of the summer travel season to be super-charged.

Southwest Airlines logged roughly 152,000 passengers taking off from Denver during the holiday weekend and just under 150,000 arriving. Southwest reported a total of 2.1 million customers across its system.

And Airlines for America, an industry trade group, is forecasting that U.S. airlines will fly 271 million passenger worldwide this summer, which would be a record and a 6.3% increase from last summer.

“We’re staffed up and ready for a record number of passengers expected to fly this summer,” Toby Enqvist, head of global operations for United, said in a call with reporters June 4.

United is hiring more people this summer, including about 700 in Denver, said Kate Gebo, the airline’s executive vice president of human resources and labor relations. United has finalized contracts with most of its unions, but not with the one representing the airline’s 25,000 flight attendants.

Gebo said the airline is “moving toward an agreement” with the union as soon as possible.

While the airlines say they’re ready for a jam-packed summer season, what about travelers? The  Transportation Security Administration, which said it’s prepared for “the highest passenger volumes the agency has seen,” shared a few tips for passengers:

• Be aware of new checkpoint technology. The TSA will take a photo at the checkpoint and use facial recognition technology to verify a passenger’s identity. The photos aren’t stored and passengers who don’t want their photo taken can request a manual ID check.

• Know what’s prohibited in luggage. Any liquids, sunscreen containers and alcohol over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag. Passengers must secure firearms in their checked baggage. Firearms must be packed unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case and declared when checking in at the airline ticket counter.

• Give yourself plenty of time. The TSA advises travelers to leave enough time to park or return a rental car; take a shuttle to the airport if needed; check in with the airline; drop off bags; and prepare for the security checkpoint.

United Airlines, the dominant carrier at DIA, is promoting its app as a way to shave an average of 30 minutes off navigating through busy airports this summer. The airline arrived at the estimate after comparing the time it takes with and without the app to prepare for a trip, including check-in, dropping off baggage, getting to the gate and selecting a seat.

Around two-thirds of United Airline passengers used the app over the Memorial Day holiday, said Grant Milstead, United’s vice president of digital technology. United averaged 525,000 customers systemwide daily May 23-27, making this year’s Memorial Day holiday the busiest ever for the airline.

More than 55,000 people per day traveled on United from Denver during the holiday weekend, spokesman Russell …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Business


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