November 09, 2022

Americans 'Eager' to Travel for Thanksgiving: Tips to Avoid Delays


The holiday travel season is about to commence now that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Travel experts are encouraging those making any sort of journey to prepare for a crowded, and possibly chaotic, one.

"The Thanksgiving holiday week is shaping up to be busy," Hayley Berg, lead economist for Hopper, told USA TODAY. "Americans are eager to visit family and friends and make up for missed holidays due to the pandemic."

About 70% of Americans said they have travel plans to do just that, according to a recent report from the travel app. About half of American travelers said it's the first time they're traveling during the holiday season since the pandemic began.

Airlines have built back capacity to try to meet the anticipated demand on domestic routes, the report said. Both flight costs and seat capacity have increased this year. Nearly 25 million seats are scheduled to depart on flights from U.S. airports over the holiday week, a 6% increase from 2019.

After a summer of cancellations, delays and travel headaches, the experts at Hopper say this holiday season will be no different.

What will be the busiest days for travel during Thanksgiving week?

Sorry to all the Sunday travelers.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 20, is expected to see about 3.3 million people on the move. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, is when traveler numbers are predicted to peak at 3.4 million, as people return home from their trips.

Travelers should bank on the longest lines and potential delays on these peak days, Berg said.

The slowest day for travel will be on Thanksgiving day itself, although 2.24 million are still expected to be en route.

What are the busiest airports during Thanksgiving week?

According to the report, Atlanta (ATL), Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and Denver (DEN) are slated to be the busiest airports that week, with over one million travelers going through their concourses. The busiest time to fly at these airports will be in the morning.

"If you’re departing from one of these busiest airports, be sure to get to the airport early, expect longer lines and be prepared for potential delays and disruptions as the airports manage heavy holiday traffic," the report said.

Which airports are expected to have the worst delays?

This past summer, one in three flights on average were delayed at major airports, according to Hopper data. Delays might affect travelers over Thanksgiving week too.

"Additionally, travelers heading in and out of Newark Airport (EWR), Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Miami Airport (MIA) should expect delays, as those airports saw the highest levels of disruption over the Thanksgiving week last year and during this past summer," Berg said.

This past summer, one in three flights on average were delayed at major airports, according to Hopper data. Delays might affect travelers over Thanksgiving week too.

"Additionally, travelers heading in and out of Newark Airport (EWR), Dallas Love Field (DAL) and Miami Airport (MIA) should expect delays, as those airports saw the highest levels of disruption over the Thanksgiving week last year and during this past summer," Berg said.

Newark had 39% of its flights disrupted this past summer, while DAL clocked in at 33% and MIA at 28%.

This past summer, Chicago Midway (MDW) and Houston (HOU) also had a significant amount of flight disruptions, so travelers flying in and out of these airports might want to be well-prepared.

How can I prepare for flight disruptions over Thanksgiving?

  • Hopper recommends booking the first flight out if you can: "You're less likely to be impacted by delays from earlier in the day."
  • Consider adding in a buffer day to your travel plans so you have some wiggle room to get to your destination.
  • Arrive at the airport early. If you have time to spare, then you won't need to worry about long TSA lines (did you know there's an app to check TSA time estimates in real-time?), traffic or getting to your gate on time.
  • April Cheng, travel expert for TravelChic World, said people should also consider weather when making travel plans — especially cold destinations that could be impacted by snow or ice.


Copyright 2022 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.usatoday.com. By Kathleen Wong.

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