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Memorial Weekend Seat Data Shows Strong Growth

Memorial Day Weekend seats scheduled to be flown in 2024 will be up around 6% compared to 2023, and up 13% compared to 2019, according to aviation analytics company Cirium. That amounts to about 600,000 more seats in the air this year compared to last year. 

The analysis is for flights departing on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and returning on Monday, in all classes, for the 11 major U.S. airlines plus Breeze and Avelo.

By market, cities in the Carolinas are seeing particularly robust growth for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, but airlines have spread the wealth among select cities throughout the country. In total, 12 markets show an increase in seats of 15% or more this year, according to the Cirium data. “Importantly, this may not be a Memorial Day bump but an indicator of more seats into these markets generally this summer,” the company said. 

Knoxville, TN, led the field in seat capacity increase for the holiday weekend, adding nearly 4,800 seats, a 24% increase. Three cities in the Carolinas – Myrtle Beach, SC (+23%); Asheville, NC (+22%); and Greenville/Spartanburg, SC (+22%) – ranked second through fourth respectively. Anchorage, AK, and Pensacola, FL, rounded out the top five with a 21% increase in seat capacity. 

The list of top cities for seat increases is dominated by smaller markets but there were some major markets on the list as well, including Philadelphia (+19% or 29,493 seats)  and Charlotte-Douglas (+19% or 57,328 seats). 

Among the legacy carriers, American Airlines is the most aggressive for the upcoming holiday weekend, adding more than 2 million seats into the market over the 2023 weekend, a 12% increase. The Cirium data shows that Delta Air Lines increased its seat count by 5.7%, while United Airlines bumped up by 3.4% and Southwest Airlines by just 0.1%. 

On a percentage basis, more robust seat additions came from ultra low-cost carriers like Frontier Airlines (+35.6% or just over 1 million seats) and Breeze Airways (+47.1% or 142,000 seats).