It's a heck of a time to be traveling. But if the recent experiences  of United and Delta Air Lines are any indication, you've probably been an airline passenger yourself in the last little bit.

Both Delta and United reported that last month was the busiest month, with the most passengers flown, in either airline's entire history

United flew 15.2 million people during June. Delta flew even more: 17.7 million worldwide passengers. 

I always like to provide tangible demonstrations of big numbers. So, to put these in perspective, just imagine that United basically flew the combined populations of Illinois and Kentucky.

Meantime, Delta was just shy of the equivalent of taking every man, woman, and child in the state of Florida and flying them someplace else.

Why the record numbers? Airfares are way lower than they've historically been. There are more routes and planes. In fact, Delta is predicting on July 20 it will break its current one-day record for total number of flights, with 6,092 flights scheduled.

Plus every year our population gets bigger. We've added another 3 million people or so in the past year. And, of course, airlines are squeezing more and more seats into the same space. 

A couple more stats: United had its busiest day in history on June 29, with 547,321 passengers. Delta came within "just a few thousand customers" of breaking its own one-day record of 646,000 that same day.

"June 2018 was a busy month," Delta said, "racking up six of the top 10 consolidated passenger days of all time -- the remaining four days all happened in summer 2017 -- proving yet again that it's summer, not the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, that takes the cake for busiest days of the year."

The irony here is that Delta, as my colleague Chris Matyszczyk reported, is actually bucking the trend as it refurbishes its Boeing 777-200ER airplanes, by stacking economy class seats nine across, as opposed to its rivals' 10 seats.

So maybe next year, Delta at least won't be breaking any more records. But you'll still be flying.

Published on: Jul 10, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.