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Airport Holiday Travel

The 10 Most Disrupted Flight Routes Over the Christmas Travel Period

The Christmas travel season is upon us. While perhaps not as narrow and intense as the Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas is nevertheless an extremely busy time of year at airports across the country. In addition to an influx of travelers, late December is infamous for throwing weather curveballs that can further snarl already maxed-out airline operations.

AirHelp has compiled a list of the most disrupted routes this holiday season, based on data from last year. You’ll immediately notice a theme here, which can be summed up simply as “the Northeast.”

  1. New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  2. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  3. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Toronto Billy Bishop City Airport (YTZ)
  4. Boston Edward L. Logan International Airport (BOS) to Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  5. Boston Edward L. Logan International Airport (BOS) to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  6. Portland International Airport (PDX) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  7. Indianapolis International Airport (IND) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  8. Kahului Airport (OGG) to Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  9. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  10. New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

[st_content_ad]Six of the top 10 most disrupted routes involve either New York or Boston, and oddly enough include several flights into Toronto. New York’s three airports are routinely among the most delayed airports in the nation, owing to the heavy traffic into and out of the city. The same is true of Chicago, which also makes multiple appearances on the list.

Last year, AirHelp says 83,000 flights were disrupted during the Christmas travel period (December 21 through January 2), affecting 7.9 million passengers.

[st_related]8 Things You Should Never Do When Traveling Over the Holidays[/st_related]

Most Popular Routes for Christmas Travel

Fortunately, there’s little overlap between the worst routes and the most popular, according to AirHelp.

The most popular routes involve a lot of West Coast cities, namely San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Again, the data is based on last year.

  1. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  2. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  3. New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  5. New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  6. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  7. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  8. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  9. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Portland International Airport (PDX)
  10. Portland International Airport (PDX) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

Readers, are you flying this holiday season? Have you experienced any nightmare travel scenarios in Christmases past? Share your stories below.

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

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