Fewer travelers will board planes to get to where they're going this Christmas, says the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the U.S. airlines.
ATA estimates that 41 million will travel by air over the upcoming winter holidays, a 2.5 percent decline from last year.
The three busiest travel days are expected to be Sunday, Dec. 27, Monday, Dec. 28 and Tuesday, Dec. 29, based on sample data from the 2008 winter holiday period.
"We are continuing to see fewer air travelers over the holidays, a trend that has been apparent throughout 2009," said ATA President and CEO James C. May. "Capacity reductions will likely mean fuller flights on many days."
May said that the decline continues to be driven by a fragile economy and depressed global demand for travel.
May encouraged passengers to pack light, to check their flight status before leaving for the airport.
Travelers are advised to pack any gifts unwrapped, as they may need to be inspected by security.
A list of the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) "Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers" is online at www.tsa.gov.
Passengers should be aware that they could be asked to provide their date of birth and gender when making a reservation, as part of the TSA Secure Flight program.