Thanksgiving 2021 Travel Outlook

Thanksgiving travel is expected to be busy with ~2.2M daily passengers taking to the skies this year.

Adit Damodaran - Nov. 16, 2021

Summary:

Busiest Airports

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (#1) will be the busiest airport on Thanksgiving Weekend, with 154k departing seats on Wednesday, November 24th. Dallas Fort-Worth (#2) and Los Angeles’s LAX (#3) are the next busiest airports, with an estimated 103k and 101k departing seats respectively. Most airports will be busiest the morning of Wednesday, November 24th, the day prior to Thanksgiving itself. Some exceptions are airports with primarily international departing flights such as New York’s JFK, which we expect to be busier earlier in the week as international-bound travelers take-off earlier for the holiday weekend.

  • TSA throughput in early November has trended around 80% of November 2019 levels. This would imply about 2M travelers each day for Thanksgiving weekend, with 2.2m travelers on the busiest days: Wednesday, November 24th and Sunday, November 28th. 

Busiest Travel Dates

  • We’re expecting Wednesday, November 24th to be the busiest travel day to depart, with 2.5m seats, around 100k more departing seats than Tuesday, November 23rd. 

  • The day before Thanksgiving (Wed., Nov 24th) is the most expensive day for domestic flights, at $323/round-trip on average. The Monday before Thanksgiving (Mon., Nov 22nd) is the most expensive day for international flights, at $673/round-trip. 

  • Sunday, November 28th is the busiest day to return, with 2.55m departing seats. We expect Monday, November 29th to be almost just as busy, with a similarly close 2.51m departing seats.

  • For both domestic and international flights, Sunday, November 28th is the most expensive day to return, at $433/round-trip and $728/round-trip respectively.

Busiest Travel Dates:

To Depart:

  1. Wednesday, November 24th (2.5m departing seats)

  2. Tuesday, November 23rd (2.4m departing seats)

  3. Monday, November 22nd (2.37m departing seats)

To Return:

  1. Sunday, November 28th (2.55m departing seats)

  2. Monday, November 29th (2.51m departing seats)

  3. Saturday, November 27th (2.42m departing seats)

Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving Travel:

Busiest
Busiest Airports Expected for Thanksgiving 2021

Holiday Travel Tips:

  • Avoid trip disruptions with Rebooking Guarantee - With more frequent delays and flight cancellations recently, you’ll want to try to avoid any hiccups during your holiday trip. Consider adding Hopper’s Flight Rebooking Guarantee - if your trip is delayed, your airline cancels your flight or you miss your connection, you can instantly rebook the next flight to their destination in the app – no matter the airline – at no additional cost. 

  • Book the first flight out - if you're booked on an afternoon flight and an earlier flight gets disrupted, you're likely getting disrupted too. Therefore, we recommend booking the earliest flight available, so you’re less likely to be impacted by delays from earlier in the day.

  • Add in a buffer to your travel dates - Try to bake some flexibility into your schedule if you can, especially for the holidays. It’s always a good idea to buffer an extra day or so, in case there are disruptions to your trip to ensure you can make it in time for any holiday festivities. 

  • Reserve a rental car ASAP to ensure availability - Rental car prices are up from the start of the year, currently averaging $84/day. Be sure to book a car now, if you plan to need one over Thanksgiving week. If you’re flying to a major city, you may want to check nearby smaller airports for better prices and more availability. 

  • Look for special last-minute hotel deals - Search nearby big cities for lower staycation rates compared to leisure destinations and check geo-rates & special promotions at nearby hotels within driving distance. You can find exclusive last-minute deals with Hopper’s Stay The Night, directly in the app.

  • Book a staycation in a nearby city - You can find some of the best hotel deals over the holidays in big cities, like New York City. If you’re looking to plan a staycation, you can find great last-minute deals during the holiday weekend.

Get the Hopper app to find the best deals.
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