Are you planning to fly the friendly skies this Fourth of July? Be prepared.
Air travel these days hasn't exactly been a walk in the park. Just last week, according to USA TODAY, more than 3,000 U.S. flights were delayed in a single day, with about 370 cancellations. And with Fourth of July weekend coming up — and wet weather in the forecast — travelers at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport will want to keep an eye on their flights.
About 43,000 seats are scheduled to be filled on planes leaving the Louisville airport between Friday and Tuesday, according to Louisville Regional Airport Authority spokeswoman Natalie Chaudoin. Those numbers line up with what the airport saw over the holiday weekend last year, but she said the facts are clear — "it will be a very busy travel weekend at SDF."
There's a laundry list of concerns and travel conditions passengers flying out of Louisville should be aware of.
Parades, concerts, fireworks: Here's where to celebrate July 4 in Louisville
Although face masks are no longer required at SDF, each airline will use proper discretion when making that call. Passengers are strongly encouraged to check with their respective airline, as well as the travel destination on whether a mask mandate is in place.
Louisville's COVID-19 positivity rate sat at 13.4% this week, and more than 108,000 new cases were being reported daily across the nation as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while the airport doesn't track coronavirus figures and their impact on direct travel, Chaudoin said busy days at SDF are common.
"Demand for travel continues to be very strong as seen by the busy summer travel period so far – people definitely want to travel and are taking to the skies to do so," she said in an email.
Passengers generally travel all over the country on long weekends, Chaudoin said, with locations such as Florida, Las Vegas and Los Angeles standing among the most popular destinations. American Airlines is the largest carrier out of Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, Chaudoin added, and will likely be the busiest airline at SDF this weekend.
Delays are "always possible" but unpredictable, Chaudoin said. According to flight tracking service FlightAware, just one cancellation had taken place at SDF in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, though four had been canceled in the same timeframe between Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Any flight delays or cancellations are handled at the discretion of the airline and usually unknown until the day or in the lead-up to the time of flight," she added.
Still, there are ways passengers can stay ahead of the game. Chaudoin encouraged travelers to arrive early and to keep an eye on their flight status.
"Anyone departing Louisville is recommended to arrive to the airport at least two hours in advance to allow for plenty of time to park, check-in, get through security and to their gate before their departure," she said. "This is especially true for individuals departing during the early morning hours. It’s also important to monitor your flight status through your airline’s mobile app or website, or on FlyLouisville.com."
If you plan on parking at the airport, garage and surface lots could be filled during peak hours. The new on-site premier west lot, premier east lot, express shuttle lot and valet parking all provide alternative options. For more information check out sdfpark.com.
Culture and diversity reporter Jason Gonzalez can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville airport expects big crowds for Fourth of July weekend