Planes, Trains & Automobiles

These Are the Busiest Airports During Thanksgiving

Heading to Atlanta? Bless your little heart.

By Gwendolyn Knapp November 6, 2018

Arrive early.

The professional data wranglers at travel planning companies InsureMyTrip and Hopper have pored over the most recent year's turkey day travel stats to bring us—eek—the nation’s busiest airports for Thanksgiving.  

If you’re flying on the holiday, there is some good news. It turns out the busiest day to depart for Thanksgiving is actually Wednesday, November 21. The busiest day to return is Sunday, November 25—ostensibly, so we can all get to our 5:30 a.m. spin classes on Monday morning to fight the bulge. Just kidding, we're totally rolling up to work in sweatpants with leftover pumpkin pie in tow.

As for the busiest airports and times, godspeed to everyone heading to (or through) Atlanta with its anticipated 1.26 million scheduled outbound passengers. Meanwhile, Dallas is expecting a whopping 828,891 outbound passengers, and our own IAH is anticipating over half a million outbound passengers—5 p.m. is reportedly the busiest time there. So arrive early and good luck, everyone.

Here are the busiest airports and times during Thanksgiving week, based on total departing passengers and volume of scheduled departures:

  1. Atlanta (ATL), 8 a.m.
  2. Los Angeles (LAX),  7 a.m.
  3. Chicago (ORD), 6 p.m.
  4. Dallas (DFW), 9 a.m.
  5. Denver (DEN), 10 a.m.
  6. New York (JFK), 6 p.m.
  7. San Francisco (SFO), noon
  8. Charlotte, CLT, 8 a.m.
  9. Orlando, MCO, 6 a.m.
  10. Seattle, SEA, 6 a.m.

A little bit more good news in all this data: Airlines reported the lowest percentage of canceled flights in 2017 and the highest on-time performance ranking since 2009. 

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