Busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel

In an effort to help empower travelers to make more informed decisions when it comes to Thanksgiving 2018 travel plans, Hopper and InsureMyTrip research teams reveal what airports and flights to avoid, the best time to buy, and how the latest data trends can aid travelers when comparing travel insurance benefits.

The data revealed the following trends for Thanksgiving 2018:

  • Busiest day to depart for Thanksgiving: Wednesday, November 21
  • Busiest day to return from Thanksgiving: Sunday, November 25
  • Top Busiest Airports & Times (local time):
  1. Atlanta (ATL) – 8:00am
  2. Los Angeles (LAX) – 7:00am
  3. Chicago (ORD) – 6:00pm
  4. Dallas (DFW) – 9:00am
  5. Denver (DEN) – 10:00am
  6. New York (JFK) – 6:00pm

The busiest day to depart for the Thanksgiving holiday this year is Wednesday, November 21, while the busiest day to return is Sunday, November 25.

This is the list of the busiest airports for Thanksgiving, based on total departing passengers and volume of scheduled departures:

Rank Airport City Scheduled Outbound
Busiest Time
(local time)
1 ATL Atlanta 1,263,168 8:00 am
2 LAX Los Angeles 1,074,752 7:00 am
3 ORD Chicago 1,057,482 6:00 pm
4 DFW Dallas 828,891 9:00 am
5 DEN Denver 787,629 10:00 am
6 JFK New York 781,953 6:00 pm
7 SFO San Francisco 714,796 12:00 pm
8 CLT Charlotte 614,779 8:00 am
9 MCO Orlando 603,100 6:00 am
10 SEA Seattle 590,938 6:00 am
11 LAS Las Vegas 585,395 8:00 am
12 PHX Phoenix 572,981 10:00 am
13 EWR Newark 571,303 5:00 pm
14 IAH Houston 551,436 5:00 pm
15 MIA Miami 548,175 10:00 am
16 BOS Boston 509,491 6:00 am
17 FLL Fort Lauderdale 475,635 8:00 am
18 DTW Detroit 426,725 7:00 am
19 MSP Minneapolis 426,900 2:00 pm
20 LGA New York 393,599 10:00 am
21 PHL Philadelphia 384,000 7:00 am
22 BWI Baltimore 365,379 7:00 am
23 DCA Washington, D.C. 323,566 4:00 pm
24 SAN San Diego 312,840 9:00 am

The busiest airports for Thanksgiving week, based on the volume of scheduled departures.

While the Thanksgiving travel period is a busy time of year,  airlines are improving their on-time performance track records. Last year, airlines reported the lowest percentage of canceled flights, since at least 2009.

Year Total Flights On Time Delayed Canceled
2009 199,280 88% 12% 0.40%
2010 204,172 81% 18% 0.83%
2011 187,088 85% 14% 0.74%
2012 173,469 86% 13% 0.57%
2013 197,013 78% 21% 1.29%
2014 180,929 79% 20% 0.87%
2015 181,512 84% 15% 0.93%
2016 177,471 85% 15% 0.25%
2017 178,139 89% 11% 0.20%

Best Protection For Flight Delays

Based on these data results, travelers can make smarter choices about their travel plans and travel insurance purchases. For example, passengers with departing flights at busier airports are more likely to utilize a travel delay benefit and, therefore, may want to compare travel insurance policies with better delay protection.

“If travelers are made aware of the probability of delays, they can then use that data to help them compare travel delay benefits when considering a travel insurance purchase,” says InsureMyTrip Intelligence Analyst Danny DeMello.

Travel delay benefits vary with each travel insurance provider, generally between a 5 and 12-hour window. The benefit is designed to provide reimbursement for reasonable meals and accommodations while unable to travel.

Tip: Travelers must be delayed for a certain number of hours before this benefit can be applied. When comparing travel insurance, look for the minimum delay time (typically, starting at 5 hours) to start qualifying for coverage as soon as possible. 

Best Protection For Delayed Bags

Travelers may also want to ensure baggage delay coverage is included under a selected comprehensive travel insurance plan. Baggage delay coverage generally becomes active after belongings have been delayed for a specified period of time, typically 12 or 24 hours.

To schedule an interview with an expert or to request specific research data, please contact news@insuremytrip.com.

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Hopper is the smart way to plan and book travel on your phone. Combining trillions of data points and powerful machine learning, the app saves users time, money, and anxiety in their quest to book the perfect trip. Hopper makes it possible to save money and travel more, predicting future prices for flights and accommodations with 95% recommendation accuracy, offering personalized tips, and notifying users about price drops and exclusive deals. Visit www.hopper.com for more information and to download the free app.