best and worst for thanksgiving travel

Thanksgiving is nearly here! We can’t wait to spend time with our friends and families and eat some delicious turkey! Many people opt to travel home in spite of the long lines, travel delays, and cancellations. We want to put you at ease by giving you the lowdown on some of the best and worst airports and airlines for Thanksgiving travel.

To rank the best and worst airports and airlines during Thanksgiving, we dove into 2017 government data to look at all the departing flights at the 50 busiest airports in the country.

The Best of the Best Airports for Thanksgiving Travel

Map of the best airports for Thanksgiving travel

If you live in the Northeast and are traveling for Thanksgiving, you’re lucky! There are five airports located here that make the top ten list of the best airports for Thanksgiving travel.

Airports with least delayed and canceled flights - data

Don’t mess with Texas! Well, at least when it comes to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. This is the best airport in the country for Thanksgiving travel. Only 16% of its flights are delayed and a minuscule 0.02% of flights are canceled.

These Might Make You Think Twice

Map of the worst airports for Thanksgiving travel

Now for the bad news. If you’re living in the West Coast (looking at you California) you’re more likely to depart from one of the worst airports in the country for Thanksgiving travel. Four of the top ten worst airports are located in the Golden State, which doesn’t give residents and visitors many options.

Airports with worst flight delays and cancellations chart

Oakland takes the cake as the worst airports for Thanksgiving travel. The numbers say it all with 44% of flights delayed and 0.17% of flights canceled.

We’re not feeling the love with Dallas Love Field either. This airport may create some very unhappy Texans with 41% of flights delayed and 0.20% of flights canceled!

Airline comparison data for Thanksgiving travel

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

If you haven’t bought your airplane tickets yet, it might be a good idea to wait. To avoid travel delays and get to that turkey on time, you may want to consider SkyWest Airlines. It has the lowest percentage of delays overall with just 18% over the Thanksgiving period.

But, it’s also worst airline for traveling over Thanksgiving due to an average of 41% for flight delays. Southwest Airlines takes the cake, and potentially the turkey.

The best days to travel around Thanksgiving

This may seem surprising, but traveling on Thanksgiving day itself is actually the second-best day to travel over the holidays with only 17% of flights delayed. The best day overall is the day after Thanksgiving with only 15% of flights delayed. We recommend you don’t travel on this day because missing Thanksgiving dinner would be a travesty!

The worst days to travel around Thanksgiving

According to our research, the worst days to travel home for Thanksgiving are the 6th and 7th days before the holiday because airlines experience an average of 36% and 34% of their flights delayed, respectively. You might not mind these delays though if you’re guaranteed to be with your loved ones for Thanksgiving and enjoy that delicious dinner—we know we wouldn’t!

Know Your Routes

Best and worst flight routes for Thanksgiving travel

If you’re in the South and flying from Greensboro/High Point to Atlanta, then you’re in luck as only 9% of flights are delayed on this route, making it the best in the country for Thanksgiving travel.

Viva Las Vegas! Well, that is unless you’re flying to Long Beach, CA as 58% of flights along this route are delayed over Thanksgiving. You might arrive and find the turkey’s gone cold!

So after crunching the numbers, for the best Thanksgiving travel experience possible, make sure to fly out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport using SkyWest Airlines on Thanksgiving day. You’re the most likely to avoid any delays and get to that Thanksgiving dinner on time.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Treetopia!

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