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Democratic Convention in Charlotte No Boon for US Airways

Among U.S. hubs, Charlotte has the largest proportion of airline seats to local passengers, according to statistics compiled by United (UAL - Get Report) in its failed effort to prevent the Houston City Council from diminishing its hub at Houston Bush InterContinental by allowing Southwest (LUV - Get Report) to build an international operation at competing Houston Hobby. The study indicated that Charlotte has 5.3 seats per local passenger: In other words, Charlotte, like Houston, has far more seat capacity than its residents fill.

An average of 20,000 passengers arrive daily in Charlotte on US Airways flights and about 75% connect. On some flights, that proportion will diminish dramatically on key convention travel days. Mohr said the heaviest days for arrivals are Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2, while the heaviest departure day is Friday, Sept 7. The situation is also complicated because Monday, Sept. 3 is Labor Day, and the three-day weekend is normally a heavy leisure travel time. Convention traveler fares could be higher than those leisure travel fares, but Mohr reminded that, as Parker said, business travel to Charlotte is expected to diminish.

Sept. 7 will be particularly difficult for departing passengers, with thousands arriving at the airport in cabs and buses. About 16,000 people are expected to attend the convention.

US Airways normally advises passengers to arrive one hour early for domestic travel and two hours early for international travel. On heavy holiday travel days, it recommends two hours early for domestic travel and three hours early for international. On Sept. 7, for Charlotte passengers, the recommendation is three hours early for domestic travel and four hours early for international travel.

This can also be described as a good day to stay home.

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