MLK weekend air travel surge expected on Thursday, Buttigieg says


A surge in air travel is expected Thursday ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Buttigieg said an estimated 46,288 flights are expected Thursday.
The number is set to dip slightly to 45,324 flights Friday and will fall further Saturday and Sunday before the number rises to an estimated 42,269 Monday flights and 42,698 on Tuesday.
“We’re expecting today [Thursday] will be the busiest day for air travel for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend,” Buttigieg said. “Give yourself plenty of time and check out passenger protection info at”
The website lays out a customer service dashboard including various airlines’ commitments to families flying with young children and customers experiencing significant flight disruptions.
The spike in travel comes amid the potential for extreme weather conditions in various parts of the U.S. in the coming days. Blizzard conditions are expected to hit the Midwest, with high snow accumulations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.
About 6 to 12 inches of snowfall is forecast for an area from eastern Nebraska to central Michigan, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula could see more than a foot of snow, per the NWS.
Meanwhile, some areas in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana have an increased risk of severe storms, the NWS said. Regions of the Deep South and Southeast U.S. also could see tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and some rain, though not as much as the storms that tore through the region earlier this week.
Nearly 12,000 flights were delayed as of 12:10 p.m. Thursday in addition to 994 cancellations, according to The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington saw the highest number of canceled outbound flights, 52, along with inbound flights, 49, FlightAware showed.
The NWS in Seattle said there are concerns for flash freeze conditions late Thursday through Friday morning as temperatures quickly drop. This has the potential to impact road travel as wet roads freeze quickly in cold weather.
Added to the travel delays and cancellations is the fallout from the midair blowout amid an Alaska Airlines flight last week.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all 171 Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft after a window panel blew out of an Alaska Airlines aircraft mid-flight last Friday. The grounding has resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations for Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, the only U.S. airlines that fly the Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft.



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