Are you planning to travel for the holidays in the coming days or weeks? You’re not by yourself.
According to data from the online booking platform Hopper, approximately 54 million people are expected to fly between December 18 and January 3.
According to the data, this week’s Thursday and Friday, as well as the next two Mondays (Dec. 26 and Jan. 3), will be among the busiest travel days of the season.
Here’s what to expect as you head to the airport, as well as some tips for making your trip go more smoothly.
Keep in mind that weather will most likely play a role later this week, with record-low temperatures and strong storms expected across much of the country.
Which airports will be the busiest during the holiday season?
According to Hopper, these will be the busiest airports between now and the beginning of 2023.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport of Atlanta (ATL)
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) Denver International Airport (DEN) (DFW)
International Airport of Los Angeles (LAX)
Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (LAS)
International Airport of Orlando (MCO)
O’Hare International Airport in Chicago (ORD)
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located in Phoenix, Arizona (PHX)
Miami International Airport (MIA) John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York (MIA)
According to a USA TODAY analysis, many of these airports have historically had a relatively high share of delayed flights around the holidays.
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When will my airport be crowded?
Lines will ebb and flow throughout the day as different airports load their departures at different times. According to Hopper, some airports are busiest between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., while others are busiest between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
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The data shows the following:
The busiest hours are between 8 a.m. and noon.
ATL DEN DFW LAX LAS PHX are the busiest between 4 and 8 p.m.
It’s a good idea to allow extra time to get to the airport and clear security no matter when you’re travelling, but especially if you’re travelling during your airport’s peak demand period.
What is the expected weather for holiday travel?
Much of the country is in for some severe weather this week, with snow and freezing temperatures expected in many places beginning Wednesday and lasting until the end of the week. Depending on when and where the most severe weather strikes, this could result in flight delays and cancellations.
If you’re flying later in the week, it’s a good idea to sign up for airline alerts in case there are any changes to your flight.
If your travel plans are somewhat flexible, it may be worthwhile to consider flying out earlier, before the worst of the weather arrives.
Holiday air travel tips
Hopper recommends that travellers purchase trip insurance, especially at this time of year when weather can cause problems.
Experts also advise researching alternatives ahead of time in case something goes wrong with the itinerary you originally booked.
Experts advise leaving your cell reception turned off when flying.
And, as always, bring plenty of patience. Airports are expected to be crowded this season, but if you plan ahead of time and are courteous to those attempting to assist you, you will have less reason to worry.