There’s a common perception that the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day to fly on US airlines. It’s wrong.
I’ve written in the past about how, in aggregate, summer travel traffic consistently exceeds the holiday season in the US, and how the peak flight day varies widely from airport to airport. Turns out, it also varies from airline to airline, and thus from terminal to terminal.
I asked the US-based airlines when their systems hit their passenger peaks. Of the six that were able to provide comparable figures, three cited summer dates, two the days following Thanksgiving, and only one the day before Thanksgiving.
Busiest day is in summer
American Airlines: June 30 — Friday ahead of US Independence Day
Delta: July 21
Southwest: The airline couldn’t provide passenger figures, but said it has more scheduled flights on some summer days than any during the Thanksgiving travel period.
Busiest day is around Thanksgiving
Allegiant: Nov. 26 — Sunday following Thanksgiving
United: Nov. 22 — day before Thanksgiving.
Alaska Airlines: Nov. 26 and Nov. 27 — Sunday and Monday following Thanksgiving
Airlines For America, an industry trade group, estimates that 2.88 million passengers will fly on Nov. 26. Representatives from JetBlue, Frontier, Hawaiian, Sun Country, and Spirit did not provide relevant figures ahead of publication.