Wednesday will be the third-busiest travel day of a record Thanksgiving travel period. It is a time when the airline industry has a lot to be thankful for.
Industry profits are high, although not quite as high as in 2015, according to the industry trade group Airlines for America. Warren Buffett recently decided that airlines are a good investment and purchased stock now worth about $1.3 billion.
Employment in the airline industry, growing for 34 consecutive months, now exceeds 400,000 for the first time since 2008, A4A said. Wages are up. Operational reliability is up. Passenger satisfaction is up too.
At Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the ninth-busiest U.S. airport with about 45 million passengers in 2015, officials see two problems that result, at least partially, from increased passenger traffic.
One is a profusion of would-be passengers who attempt to carry guns onboard. The other is overcrowded parking lots, which may push some passengers out of the lowest-cost spaces.
Officials from the airport, the Transportation Security Administration, the Charlotte police department and American Airlines spoke with reporters on Monday.
The number of times passengers attempted to carry guns through TSA checkpoints in Charlotte has climbed to 52, up from 39 for the full year in 2015. Each time someone is caught with a gun in a carry-on baggage, the response is, "I'm not sure how it got there," according to Kevin Frederick, TSA federal security director for Charlotte. In nearly every case, the person is arrested and fined.
If you attempt to carry a gun onboard, "You're going to go to jail, and that's really going to impact your holiday plans," said Greg Collins, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police captain.
Nationally, the number of people who try to carry guns through security is rising precipitously. The total has risen steadily from 660 in 2005 to 2,653 in 2015 and to 2,776 in the first 10 months of 2016, according to TSA figures.
The National Rifle Association declined to comment on the increase.
Also in Charlotte, the number of low-cost parking spaces hasn't increased as rapidly as local passenger traffic in a growing metropolitan area with a high proportion of business travel. Charlotte's parking rates are among the country's lowest for major airports.