Partly because it falls on a Thursday every year, Thanksgiving has long represented the busiest single airline travel event of the year—making it one of the best times to be able to fly yourself. As reported in Fortune online, for 2021, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) projects an average of some 2 million people per day will travel on airline flights between Nov. 19 and Nov. 28. The agency said there is a possibility that key choke days will drastically exceed that average number. According to travel group AAA, airline passenger throughput for the remainder of this week (Nov. 23-28) will fall just 9 percent short of that same time frame in 2019, the last Thanksgiving period before the pandemic.
United Airlines anticipates a total of more than 4.5 million passengers for the time period, close to 90 percent of its 2019 throughput. Delta expects to have the same percentage in comparison to pre-pandemic numbers, filling at least 5.6 million seats.
American and Southwest were hit hard with canceled flights last month, according to Fortune. Staffing issues and bad weather combined to cripple service. Both carriers faced criticism for ramping up traffic too quickly, leading to thousands of canceled flights stranding travelers across the country. In response, both airlines have cut back on schedules and redoubled efforts to bring employees back, hire new workers and offer incentives to keep people working through the holiday period.
For those readers who will be flying themselves and their families on holiday travel, be sure to plan well, make alternative plans in case of iffy weather and fly safely.