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United Airlines Reports Higher Travel Volumes, Expects Record Summer

United Airlines plane

United Airlines increased both its capacity and the amount of passenger travel during the quarter ended March 31.

The airline also expects to see another summer of record travel this year, executives said Wednesday (April 17) during United Airlines’ quarterly earnings call.

Compared to the same quarter last year, the number of revenue passengers was up 6.8%, the number of scheduled miles flown by revenue passengers was up 9.3% and the number of seats available for passengers multiplied by the number of scheduled miles those seats are flown was up 9.1%, United Airlines said in a Wednesday press release.

Demand remained strong, with a double-digit percentage increase in business demand quarter over quarter, the release said.

Corporate travel was strong, both domestically and across the board, Andrew Nocella, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at United Airlines, said during the call.

“We saw, I think, nine of our top 10 corporate booking days this year, in our history,” Nocella said. “So, really, across the board. The strongest industries were professional services, tech and industrials. But I think just about every sector was up in the numbers this year.”

Domestic leisure travel has also been “really strong,” Mike Leskinen, executive vice president and chief financial officer at United Airlines, said during the call.

During the quarter, there were 16 days in which the airline carried more than 500,000 passengers. That was a record in the company’s first-quarter history, according to the press release.

United expects both the company and the industry to see another record for summer passenger numbers during the upcoming season, Nocella said during the call.

During the first quarter, United Airlines also began using generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) on united.com to expedite customer search and in its flight status notification system to further enable real-time flight status updates to customers, according to the press release.

In another offering launched during the quarter, the company announced MileagePlus miles pooling, which lets customers share and use miles with their friends and families, per the release.

This option was developed for members who couldn’t earn enough miles on their own to take the trip they want and enjoy the benefits of the program, Nocella said during the call.

“The pooling option allows them a better chance to do that,” Nocella said. “I think it comes at a minimal cost to United, but it definitely enhances the value of the program.”