Why Your Delta Flight Was a Bit Fuller in July
Full flights are a hallmark of summer, as Americans take to the airways for their vacations. Delta Air Lines flights, however, were a little bit fuller than normal.
The Atlanta-based carrier managed an elusive 90% system load factor, or the percent of available seats that are full, in July. This means fewer open middle seats and more difficulty getting upgrades.
For comparison, US airlines achieved an average domestic load factor of 84.5% in all of 2018, according to US Department of Transportation data via Diio by Cirium schedules. The average load factor was 87.4% for the peak June-August summer travel season.
Glen Hauenstein, president of Delta, speaking during the airline's quarterly results presentation in July, said both "leisure and business travel demand remain robust" from the second quarter into the third. This was buoyed by a strong US economy and, as Cowen analyst Helane Becker noted last month, "spillover demand" from carriers affected by the Boeing 737 MAX grounding.
August is likely to look a lot like July at Delta. The summer travel season continues through Labor Day Weekend that begins on Aug. 31, and the MAX remains grounded until at least the fourth quarter.