Air travel and Thanksgiving. Three words that strike fear in the hearts of even the most intrepid flyers.
But the truth is that flying over the Thanksgiving holiday can be better or worse, depending on a number of variables. The day and time of travel, for example, can make all the difference. Flying on Thanksgiving day is almost always a refreshingly stress-free experience, a lull in the travel storm, as the day is devoted to dining and connecting with friends and family. It’s not a day to be sitting on a plane, or in an airport.
And those airports? They’re yet another crucial factor in the quality of a Thanksgiving trip. Some airports are a headache in the best of times, and a nightmare during peak holiday travel periods. Others much less so.
So, which are which? According to a newly released Orbitz study, based on the online travel agency’s own bookings, the following will be the 10 busiest airports this Thanksgiving:
- Los Angeles International – Los Angeles, Calif.
- Chicago O’Hare International – Chicago, Ill.
- San Francisco International – San Francisco, Calif.
- Denver International – Denver, Colo.
- Boston Logan International – Boston, Mass.
- John F. Kennedy International – New York, N.Y.
- Orlando International – Orlando, Fla.
- Newark Liberty International – Newark, N.J.
- Dallas-Fort Worth International – Dallas, Texas
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International – Atlanta, Ga.
And, as a reminder that, at least in some cases, there are alternatives to the busiest airports, Orbitz forecasts that these will be the 10 least congested airports over the holiday weekend:
- Eppley Airfield – Omaha, Neb.
- Kahului Airport – Maui, Hawaii
- Mineta San Jose International – San Jose, Calif.
- Jacksonville International – Jacksonville, Fla.
- Palm Beach International – West Palm Beach, Fla.
- Nashville International – Nashville, Tenn.
- General Mitchell International – Milwaukee, Wis.
- John Wayne Airport – Orange County, Calif.
- Port Columbus International – Columbus, Ohio
- Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International – Cincinnati, Ohio
If you’re committed to traveling via one of the busiest airports, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or the Sunday following—the two busiest days—there’s little you can do to mitigate the long lines and full flights. But at the very least, do this: Allow plenty of extra time to arrive at your departure gate.
Thanksgiving travel is stressful enough without missing your flight.
Reader Reality Check
Thankfully, my Thanksgiving travel plans are limited to a car trip across town. You?
More From Smartertravel:
- 10 Worst People You Meet in Airports
- Zip Through America’s Fastest Airports
- America’s Happiest Airports
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.