US Airlines Expect 29 Million Passengers for Thanksgiving Holiday

Paul Ausick

Source: Thinkstock
More than 2.38 million passengers are expected to take to the skies every day between November 17 and November 28, this year’s Thanksgiving air-travel season. A total of around 28.5 million people are expected to travel by air during the 12-day period.

To accommodate that throng, airlines are adding 86,000 seats per day, an increase of 3.2% over last year. The passenger total for this year is up 3% compared to last year’s Thanksgiving travel season.

The projections were released Wednesday morning by Airlines for America (A4A), an airline industry trade group. The group’s vice-president and chief economist, John Heimlich, said:

Airline passengers continue to benefit from the highly competitive air-service landscape this holiday season, as low fares and increased availability of seats continue to make air travel widely accessible.

Daily passenger volumes will range from 1.61 million to 2.88 million, with the busiest travel days in ranked order expected to be Sunday, November 26; Wednesday, November 22, and Friday, November 17. The lightest travel day is expected to be Thanksgiving Day itself, November 23.

Holiday travelers know by now that Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for airlines and that the Wednesday before and the Sunday after the holiday are the busiest days of the year. For those looking for the lowest prices, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday are the best bets.

Alas, if you haven’t booked your flight yet you almost certainly will pay more than someone who booked in the last week of September. According to, an average round-trip ticket purchased then would have cost $374. If you waited, expect to pay up to $476 for the same ticket.