By Chris Morris
November 20, 2017

The roads and skies are going to be especially crowded this year, as the number of people traveling for Thanksgiving is expected to hit its highest level in 12 years.

AAA says there will be some 50.9 million people traveling 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving 2017, a 3.3% jump from last year. Some 45.5 million of those will be in their cars. That’s going to make for some congested roads.

AAA says the heaviest traffic volumes, naturally, will hit square in the heart of rush hour, specifically on Tuesday, Nov. 21, from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m, essentially all day Wednesday, Nov. 22 (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and again on Sunday, Nov. 26, from noon until 8 p.m.

Airports won’t offer much of a respite, either. Airlines for America, a commercial aviation lobbying group, says the nation’s carriers will ferry 28.5 million passengers during the Thanksgiving season—an average of 86,000 additional seats per day. Sunday, Nov. 26 is going to be the worst, with an estimated 2.88 million passengers.

(Staying an extra day or two might hurt your vacation allotment, but it could save your sanity—and perhaps some money as well.)

Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Friday, Nov. 17 will be the second and third busiest. Thanksgiving itself should be fairly light.

The added risk of air travel is the on-time performance of the airport you’re flying in and out of on your trip. Things like construction and weather can have a tremendous impact. In its listing of the best and worst airports in terms of on-time performance, RewardExpert says that if you have to connect, better to do so in the Southeast rather than some of the nation’s bigger metropolitan areas.

The best airports, the site says, are:

  1. Honolulu (HNL) – with a 91.5% on-time performance
  2. Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL) – 86.9%
  3. Charlotte Douglas (CLT) -86.6%
  4. Southwest Florida International (RSW) – 86.1%
  5. Salt Lake City (SLC) – 85.4%

Rounding out the bottom of the list are:

  1. San Francisco (SFO) – 75.5% on-time performance
  2. Newark Liberty (EWR) – 78.7%
  3. Oakland (OAK) – 78.8%
  4. Houston Hobby (HOU) – 79.6%
  5. Sacramento (SMF) – 79.8%

 

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