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Are you flying on your airline’s the busiest day?
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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HOLIDAY STUFFING

Are you flying on your airline’s busiest day?

David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

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.

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