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America's Busiest Airports on Thanksgiving

America's Busiest Airports on Thanksgiving

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Planning for smooth travel during the Thanksgiving holiday is no easy task. With travel experts pointing out that some of the year's worst days to travel fall on days around Thanksgiving, you know that getting to that desirable Thanksgiving meal on time and without stress will likely be hard. So when thinking about air travel and Thanksgiving, you know to expect a crowded airport, but you might figure that the busiest airport in the U.S. would be in New York or Los Angeles. But, according to a report by the online reservation company Orbitz, Thanksgiving's busiest airport is actually located in Chicago. More than 66.8 million travelers passed through Chicago O’Hare International Airport in 2012, on their way to one of the airport's more than 198 destinations in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Last year, 2012, was reported to be a particularly busy year for Thanksgiving air travel, with 23.7 million passengers flying over the 12-day period surrounding Thanksgiving, up 150,000 from 2011. To help make Thanksgiving travel slightly less stressful — or possibly even more stressful, depending on where your holiday travel plans might take you — Orbitz released their annual report on the busiest and least busy airports around the country. Los Angeles' LAX, which topped the list since 2010, got edged out by Chicago’s O’Hare, and New York’s La Guardia, previously ranked as number six, climbed up to be the fourth-busiest airport during 2012’s Thanksgiving travels.

The good news? Several of the cities with the busiest airports are also located close to other airports listed on the reverse list — the least busy airports for Thanksgiving travel. So for example, instead of facing the crowds at San Francisco’s airport, a short trip can take you to Sacramento International Airport, fourth on the list of the least busy airports for Thanksgiving. For those living in Florida, Fort Lauderdale’s crowded airport can be switched out for Jacksonville International, which ranks second after Buffalo Niagara in Buffalo, N.Y., on the "least busy" list.

Clearly, there are still some key advantages to departing or arriving from a busy airport — chances are you’ll have easy access to a connecting flight to your destination. But for those looking to bypass the crowds and make sure to get to their Thanksgiving meals without too much stress, it might just be possible by avoiding the busiest airports from the list below:

The Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving Travel (2012)

1. Chicago O’Hare International, Chicago

2. Los Angeles International, Los Angeles

3. San Francisco International, San Francisco

4. New York LaGuardia, New York City

5. Boston Logan International, Boston

6. John F. Kennedy International, New York

7. Orlando International, Orlando, Fla.

8. Denver International, Denver

9. Ronald Reagan National, Washington, D.C.

10. Fort Lauderdale International, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Can’t handle the stress? If your Thanksgiving meal is waiting for you in any of these cities, count yourself lucky!

The Least Busy Airports for Thanksgiving Travel (2012)

1. Buffalo Niagara International, Buffalo, N.Y.

2. Jacksonville International, Jacksonville, Fla.

3. Nashville International, Nashville, Tenn.

4. Sacramento International, Sacramento, Calif.

5. Bradley International, Hartford, Conn.

6. Palm Beach International, Palm Beach, Fla.

7. Cleveland Hopkins International, Cleveland

8. John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, Calif.

9. San Antonio International, San Antonio

10. Salt Lake City International, Salt Lake City

The Busiest U.S. Airports At Thanksgiving [Infographic]

After a feast of turkey, stuffing and sweet potato, Americans who had to travel for the Thanksgiving weekend will be thinking about their return trips with a sense of trepidation. Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest long distance travel periods of the year with the AAA predicting that 50.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this year, an increase of 3.3 percent on last year. Trade association Airlines for America also estimated that 28.5 million passengers would travel on U.S. airlines over the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, also up three percent.

Holiday gridlock on the interstate is infuriating but so too are the long lines at U.S. airports. This year, new security screening procedures require travelers to remove all electronic items larger than a cellphone from their carry-on, a move which is likely to make those lines even longer. That begs the question: which airports have been the busiest during the holiday period and which ones are best to avoid?

According to data from Hopper and InsureMyTrip reported by PRNewswire, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will handle 1.38 million departing passengers in Thanksgiving week, the most of any airport in the country. LAX comes second with 1.13 million while O'Hare is ranked the third-busiest with just over a million departing passengers.

Travelers Beware: LAX Will Be Busiest Airport in America This Thanksgiving

It's that time of year again! Time to haul yourself and your family to Los Angeles International Airport and take to the skies to go visit relatives around the country for the big Thanksgiving holiday. Big holidays often equal big headaches for travelers, and it's looking like LAX is going to be the busiest airport in the nation this year.

Online seller Orbitz has ranked LAX as a top departure and arrival point for Thanksgiving. "The website determines the annual ranking by calculating ticket sales for the nation's top 50 airports for the weekend, which this year is Nov. 23 to 27," explains the Daily Breeze. Um, yay?

With ticket sales still happening, it looks like LAX will come in ahead of Chicago's O'Hare and Orlando International Airport.

As the L.A. Times points out, travelers will deal with less chaos at other regional airports, like Orange County's John Wayne, which ranked on Orbitz as one of the least busy, and Burbank's Bob Hope Airport, and Ontario's Airport, both of which did not make Orbitz's list at all.

The economy has affected how Southern Californians travel during the holidays, but that doesn't mean we are not going places. According to AAA, this year at least half of Southern Californians are planning holiday travel, but those travelers are spending less on their trips.

Are you hitting the road or the skies for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday?

What Is The Busiest Airport On Thanksgiving Weekend?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We hope that most of you have made it home in time for your turkey dinner. An estimated 31.6 million passengers are expected to be flying somewhere during this holiday season. Here’s a look at the airports that are expected to have the greatest footfall while people travel to and from their loved ones this weekend.

Best to plan ahead

American Airlines has been proactive in its approach this season. It has sent out a notification to its customers to make use of its digital services to cope with the rush. The airline estimates that it will fly 8.6 million passengers over the next two weeks.

Overall, it expects its hubs of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to be the two busiest airports that it operates at.

Hopefully, AA’s introduction of biometric boarding will help reduce the overall boarding time. Every other US airline will have their hands tied too, especially Delta, which expects to carry 3.2 million passengers.

Extra congestion

The busiest day this Thanksgiving is expected to be Sunday. This is when many people have overcome the food hangovers and Black Friday craze and try to return to reality.

We can get an idea of what would be the busiest airport in the US in the next few weeks by looking at the busiest hubs overall. Business Insider reports that, last year, the busiest airport in the country was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, which served more than 107 million passengers.

This feat also makes it the most occupied airport in the world. This location is a hub for Delta Air Lines, as well as a focus city for Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Ultimately, this gives the aerodrome a range of customers, as these firms are some of the country’s most used carriers.

Ultimately, Atlanta’s prime location enables its airport to be a major connecting point and port of entry into North America. Several key destinations in populous states are within reasonable proximity of this city. Moreover, the hub is within a two-hour flight of 80% of the population of the United States.

Other leaders

In second place is Los Angeles International (LAX). This is also the fourth busiest airport across the globe. The Southern Californian hub serves 87.5 million fliers. Furthermore, the third busiest is O’Hare International in Chicago, serving more than 83.2 million passengers annually. This makes it the sixth most used airport worldwide.

Wherever you’re traveling this holiday season, it is recommended to check flight statuses and allow some extra time to get to the airport. Especially with bad weather on the horizon. Simple Flying wishes everyone a joyous holiday season and a seamless travel experience.

Has there been any extra congestion at the airports that you’re traveling through? Let us know how your travel experience has been so far in the comment section.

Thanksgiving travellers give US airports their busiest weekend since March

Travellers depart Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday during the coronavirus disease pandemic, in Atlanta, Georgia November 23, 2020. ― Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, Nov 24 ― More than 3 million airline passengers passed through US airports over the weekend, disregarding calls to avoid Thanksgiving trips and making it the busiest air-travel weekend since coronavirus lockdowns hit in mid-March.

The Transportation Security Administration reported the traffic based on traveller numbers at airport security checkpoints.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday urged Americans not to travel during this week’s Thanksgiving holiday to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus as cases of Covid-19 spike around the United States.

US airline executives last week said they had seen a rise in cancellations and slower bookings as Covid-19 cases increase, though Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly on Thursday said he still expected the month of November to be better for bookings than October and September.

While the TSA numbers show an improvement, screenings are still nearly 60 per cent lower than at the same time last year.

Airlines are burning through millions of dollars every day as they wrestle with a sharp downturn in demand. But there have been pockets of improvement, and some carriers were hoping for upticks in travel around the Thanksgiving and winter holidays.

TSA screened 1.047 million passengers on Sunday ― the highest number of any day since mid-March, along with 984,369 on Saturday and 1.019 million on Friday.

There have been just three days since March 16 that the number of US airline passengers screened topped 1 million.

Amtrak Chief Executive Bill Flynn told reporters Monday that demand at the passenger railroad for the Thanksiving travel period has “softened just a little bit over the last several days” to 20 per cent of last year's demand, citing the CDC recommendation.

US airlines say travel demand remains down 62 per cent from a year ago, while international travel demand remains down more than 70 per cent. Some officials think US restrictions barring many non-US citizens from arrival could be eliminated or reduced with new testing.

The CDC on Saturday said Covid-19 testing before and after international travel can reduce risk and “make travel safer by reducing spread on planes, in airports and at destinations.”

On Wednesday, the chief executives of the seven largest US airlines made a fresh plea for more payroll relief in a letter to congressional leaders.

American Airlines and United Airlines last month furloughed 32,000 workers.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought travel to a near halt earlier in the year, forcing airlines to scale back operations and seek government bailouts. ― Reuters

Tips for Planning Your Thanksgiving Air Travel

Travel Channel shares the 24 busiest airports and times so you can plot your Turkey Day travel.

Related To:


With Halloween behind us, it’s time to replace that Frankenstein blow up with some harvest themed-décor and also time to start plotting your Thanksgiving travel.

The folks at Hopper and InsureMyTrip have shared their busiest travel days and times and also the airports that will be especially hopping this holiday season.

In 2018, the busiest travel days will be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 21 and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, so plan accordingly.

And the busiest airports and peak times this Thanksgiving are below. Some surprises, some no brainers. But this insight should help travelers be a little more strategic when booking their travel times.

Top 10 Busiest and Least Busy U.S. Airports Over Thanksgiving Holiday 2011

The Thanksgiving season is just around the corner and it is no surprise that airports will be busier than usual during this season.

According to Orbitz, a leading online travel company, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD) and the Orlando International (MCO) will be the nation's busiest. This is the latter's first time on this list.

On Thursday, Orbitz released the latest reports, which suggests that two airports in California - the Mineta San Jose International (SJC) and the John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County - as well as Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui will be among the least crowded with holiday travelers.

To help travelers easily navigate crowds over the holiday season, the travel site released the Orbitz Insider Index for Thanksgiving 2011 that identifies the ten busiest and least busy U.S. airports for travel between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27, 2011.

The Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) and Atlanta's Hartsfield International (ATL) dropped off the busiest airports list this year, while Sacramento International (SMF) airport in the Northern California Bay region lands on the list of least busy airports, offering a viable re-route alternative for travelers in the area looking to avoid crowds.

As in previous years, the three main airports serving the New York metropolitan area - the John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and the Newark Liberty International (EWR) - are expected to be among the 10 busiest airports in the country for the Thanksgiving period.

Top Ten Busiest Airports in the U.S. for Thanksgiving

1. Los Angeles International, Los Angeles, CA
2. Chicago O'Hare International, Chicago, IL
3. Orlando International, Orlando, FL
4. San Francisco International, San Francisco, CA
5. Boston Logan International, Boston, MA
6. New York LaGuardia, New York, NY
7. Denver International, Denver, CO
8. John F. Kennedy International, New York, NY
9. Newark Liberty International, Newark, NJ
10. Seattle-Tacoma International, Seattle, WA

Top Ten Least Busy Airports in the U.S. for Thanksgiving

1. Mineta San Jose International, San Jose, CA
2. Kahului Airport, Maui, HI
3. John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, CA
4. Jacksonville International, Jacksonville, FL
5. Sacramento International, Sacramento, CA
6. Palm Beach International, Palm Beach, FL
7. Bradley International, Hartford, CT
8. San Antonio International, San Antonio, TX
9. Cleveland Hopkins International, Cleveland, OH
10. Port Columbus International, Columbus, OH

These Are the Busiest Airports for the Thanksgiving Holiday

The Thanksgiving Holiday is a time of celebration, family, and food for Americans, but it can also be a traveler&rsquos worst nightmare, with airports and train stations busier than ever as travelers head home or out on vacation.

Last year, AAA estimated that more than 50 million people traveled for the holiday, the highest ever at over 1.5 million more than in 2016. And this year is expected to be no different.

According to research from Hopper and InsureTrip, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, and the Sunday after, Nov. 25, will again be two of the busiest travel days of the year. The research pinpointed five airports and five times that will be the most congested this year:

1. Hartsfield&ndashJackson Atlanta International Airport
According to the research, almost 1.3 million outbound passengers are scheduled to leave from Atlanta this Thanksgiving, with a lot passing through at 8:00 a.m. local time, the busiest hour for the airport.

More than 1 million outbound passengers are scheduled to leave from Atlanta this Thanksgiving. Photo: ESB Professional/

2. Los Angeles International Airport
Just under 1.1 million outbound travelers are scheduled to pass through LAX this Thanksgiving, with the busiest time of the day being 7:00 a.m. local time.

Earlier this year, the TSA started testing facial recognition technology for international travelers at LAX. The agency began collaborating with CBP in 2017 at John F. Kennedy International Airport and expanded testing to LAX in August.

LAX is expected to be the second busiest airport this Thanksgiving week. Photo: Bayda/

3. Chicago O&rsquoHare International Airport
Another 1 million outbound passengers are expected at O&rsquoHare, with the worst time to travel being 6:00 p.m. local time during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chicago O&rsquoHare was one of the airports that the Transportation Security Administration began using as beta testers for new scanners earlier this year that will allow travelers to keep their liquids and laptops in their bags.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Photo: Sorbis/

4. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Dallas, the largest hub for American Airlines, will serve an estimated 828,000 outbound passengers this Thanksgiving Holiday. A lot of those travelers are expected to travel around 9:00 a.m. local time, the busiest time for Dallas.

Dallas Fort Worth has long been one of the favorite airports of travelers. Photo: EQRoy/

5. Denver International Airport
Physically, Denver is the largest airport in the country and will be one of the busiest ones this Thanksgiving, according to Hopper and InsureTrip.

Close to 790,000 outbound passengers are expected in Denver this Thanksgiving holiday, with 10:00 a.m. being the most crowded time for travel.

Denver International. Photo: Nico Schmedemann/

Wrapping up the top ten, according to the research, is New York&rsquos JFK Airport (781,000 passengers), San Francisco International Airport (714,000), Charlotte Douglas International Airport (614,000 passengers), Orlando International Airport (603,100), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (590,000 passengers).

These are the 10 airports to avoid if you're flying during Thanksgiving

America will be traveling in droves this Thanksgiving. An estimated 30.6 million people are expected to fly this Thanksgiving holiday period, industry trade group Airlines For America (A4A) said in a release. That's up 5.7% from last year and a whopping 26% from 2010.

In fact, American Airlines, alone, expects to operate nearly 71,000 flights and fly more than seven million passengers during the 12 day period between November 16 and November 27.

Delta expects to carry 4.7 million holiday travelers between November 19 and November 25.

To accommodate all of this additional traffic, US airlines are expected to make an additional 158,000 seats available every day during the heavy travel period. Airlines will deploy additional aircraft and schedule extra flights to ferry holiday travelers.

According to A4A, the busiest days for air travel during this period is Sunday, Nov. 25 followed by Wednesday, Nov. 21.

If you're looking to avoid the crowds, Thanksgiving day is going to be least busy day by a wide margin.

As a result, airports around the country are going to be packed even more so than usual. Last year, five of the 20 busiest airports in the world were located in the US. This included the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International which hosted nearly 104 million passengers.

Los Angeles International or LAX is the second busiest airport in the US and the fifth busiest in the world with just under 85 million travelers. Chicago's O'Hare International comes in third place in the US and sixth place worldwide with nearly 80 million passengers annually.

To give you a better idea of which US airport will likely be the most crowded, here's a breakdown of the 10 busiest airports in the US based on passenger numbers.

Thanksgiving Travel? The Busiest - And Easiest - Airports For The Holidays

Thanksgiving is an infamously challenging weekend to fly, and the closing Sunday has a longstanding reputation as the most heavily traveled day of the entire year in this country.

USA Today just reported that this year will be exceptionally bad (good if you are an airline) with 23.7 million passengers over the 12-day busy period surrounding Thanksgiving, up 150,000 from last year. The lightest travel day, not surprisingly, is Thanksgiving itself, while the busiest are the following Sunday and Monday with 2.4 and 2.3 million flyers respectively.

According to information provided by online reservation company Orbitz, these are the most and least busy airports for Thanksgiving holiday travel this year (among the nation’s top 50 airports). If you have not made your travel plans yet, this info can really help you avoid trouble and seek out hidden gems. For example, while San Francisco is the nation’s third busiest, Sacramento, a viable alternative, is the fourth least busy. Ft. Lauderdale makes the busy list, while nearby Palm Beach makes the least busy. Ditto for LAX and John Wayne. Newark dropped off the ten busiest list since last year, while regional siblings JFK and LaGuardia both made the crowded list. The info also helps for transfer points: Chicago’s O’Hare notably passed last year’s number one, LAX to take the top spot in crowds, while the nation’s busiest airport on a regular basis, and a huge hub, Atlanta’s Hartsfield, did not make the list.

Even if you have already booked, this information can help you prepare and when appropriate consider arriving early to deal with extra crowds at check in and security.

Orbitz Insider Index: Busiest Thanksgiving Airports

2. Los Angeles International, CA

3. San Francisco International, CA

5. Boston Logan International, MA

6. John F. Kennedy International, NY

7. Orlando International, FL

8. Denver International, CO

9. Ronald Reagan National, DC

10. Ft. Lauderdale International, FL

Orbitz Insider Index: Least-Busy Thanksgiving Airports

1. Buffalo Niagara International, NY

2. Jacksonville International, FL

3. Nashville International, TN

4. Sacramento International, CA

5. Bradley International, CT

6. Palm Beach International, FL

7. Cleveland Hopkins International, OH

9. San Antonio International, TX

10. Salt Lake City International, UT

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