Frequent Flyer

Three Travel Days to Avoid This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving flights will be more crowded than last year, according to a new forecast. Here are the days to avoid if you can.

Traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday? If so, you’ll be among 25 million others, according to the annual holiday forecast by Airlines for America, an airline-industry advocacy group.

That’s an increase of 1.5 percent over last Thanksgiving. Since then, the airlines have increased the number of available seats by around 2 percent, more than offsetting the expected traffic bump. Nevertheless, load factor during the 12-day Thanksgiving period, between November 22 and December 3, will average more than 85 percent. And on peak days, flights on popular routes will be completely full.

The three busiest days will be as follows:

  • Sunday, December 1
  • Wednesday, November 27
  • Monday, December 2

The slowest day? Thanksgiving itself.

Surviving the Holiday Crush

To escape the crush, frequent flyers can—and should—leverage their elite status to upgrade, or cash in miles for premium-cabin flights. Infrequent flyers have fewer options. Book an aisle seat whenever possible, and fly on carriers like JetBlue that feature an extra smidgen of legroom. Perhaps pay extra to upgrade to economy plus. But mostly, it’s a matter of grinning and keeping your claustrophobia in check.

Happy holidays!

Reader Reality Check

How do you deal with the stress and discomfort of traveling during the holidays?

This article originally appeared on

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By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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