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The worst days to fly in the US, ranked

  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

This article is more than 2 years old.

Today is not the busiest day to fly in America. I repeat, today is not the busiest day to fly in America.

It’s not even close.

The three busiest days to fly in the US are all in the summer. In 2013, they were July 18, 25, and 11, according to airport operations data from the FAA. Those were the three consecutive Thursdays following US Independence Day on July 4th (which was the 21st least-busiest day to fly).

Of the top 30 busiest days at US airports in 2013, only three were during winter.

The day before Thanksgiving, if you were wondering, ranks 27th.

The Friday before Christmas—Dec 20—was the busiest winter day in 2013, ranking 4th overall. This year the Friday before Christmas is Dec 19.

RankDayOperations
1July 1839,753 flights
2July 2539,630
3July 1139,538
4December 2039,485
5June 1439,472
6August 239,361
7June 2039,305
8August 139,251
9August 939,249
10July 2639,243
11June 1939,190
12August 1539,163
13July 3139,140
14July 2439,118
15July 1239,080
16December 1939,054
17August 838,973
18July 1938,902
19August 738,855
20August 1638,798
21June 2738,775
22June 2138,763
23July 1638,730
24July 1738,715
25July 3038,708
26June 638,695
27November 2738,676
28August 638,654
29July 338,554
30May 2438,405

The day before Thanksgiving is only marginally busy—not only in aggregate, but also at a local level. In 2013, there wasn’t one airport in the US that had its busiest day on Nov 27. Here’s a map of that:

With snow expected on the east coast this year, there are worries of weather related delays and cancellations that could pack more passengers onto fewer planes today. But that has not been the norm either. Flights in November are the least delayed by weather of any month on average.

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