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Uh-Oh! Your Thanksgiving Flight is About to Get More Crowded

The forecast is in on the busiest travel days if you're flying home for the big feast.

A crowded airport during the holidays
Photography by: Scott Barbour / Getty

Are you flying over the Thanksgiving holiday? We have some good and some bad news for all of you. The good news is that airfare has never been cheaper due to a competitive airline environment and the expanding economy. The bad news is that you can expect the plane to be even more crowded than usual.

 

The facts speak for themselves: an estimated 27.3 million people will fly at the end of this month, according to industry trade group Airlines for America. Travelers will fly worldwide on domestic airlines between Nov. 18 and Nov. 29. That calculates to an average 2.27 million people boarding flights every day — a comparative increase of 700,000 people over last year. "Airlines are adding capacity to accommodate the increased demand," said John Heimlich, Airlines for America's vice president and chief economist, in a statement. "While more people will be flying, there will be more than an adequate number of seats available."

 

The busiest airports are expected to be Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas. The heaviest air traffic will occur on Wednesday before the holiday and on Sunday after Thanksgiving. Want more elbow room on the flight? You should try booking the lightest traffic day, which is forecasted to be Thanksgiving Day.

 

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While that doesn't mean security lines will be extra long (the TSA has been working to improve wait times), it does mean that planes and airport terminals are likely to be jam-packed. So to paraphrase, 'tis the season to be patient.

 

Ready to start packing? Martha has a few tips and tricks for your carry-on bag:

 

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