Insider Index unveils busiest, least busy airports over Thanksgiving
CHICAGO, Ill. - Los Angeles' LAX, Chicago's O'Hare (ORD) and Orlando International (MCO) will be the nation's busiest airports this Thanksgiving, according to data released today.
CHICAGO, Ill. – Los Angeles’ LAX, Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) and Orlando International (MCO) will be the nation’s busiest airports this Thanksgiving, according to data released today. Meanwhile, two other airports in California – Mineta San Jose International (SJC) and John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County – as well as Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui will be among the least crowded with holiday travelers. These are just a few of the helpful highlights from the Insider Index for Thanksgiving 2011, which also provides a host of tips and tricks to navigate the crowds and enjoy the journey to visit friends and family over the holiday.
“While it’s a given that airports will be busier than usual during the holidays, with just a bit of advance planning, that trip home for turkey day can actually be a fun experience,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior travel editor for Orbitz.com. “In addition, there’s so much that can be done online ahead of time – from checking in and checking bags to choosing seats and mapping out airport diversions and eateries – that can help minimize stress and up the fun factor on what is, after all, a family vacation for many of us.”
Most/Least Busy Thanksgiving Airports
The Insider Index reviewed the top 50 U.S. airports based on flight bookings, and identifies those that will be the most and least busy for travel between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27, 2011. Highlights of this year’s Index include:
Los Angeles International bumped Chicago O’Hare off the #1 slot for busiest airports this year, with Orlando International rounding out the top three
Ronald Reagan Washington National (DCA) and Atlanta’s Hartsfield International (ATL) dropped off the busiest airports list, while Orlando International joined the top 10 for the first time in the past two years.
As in previous years, the three main airports serving the New York metropolitan area (John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark Liberty International (EWR)) are listed in the top 10 trafficked airports for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Two Northern California airports in the Bay area—Sacramento International (SMF) and Mineta San Jose International land on the “Least Busy” list, offering a viable alternative for travelers in the area looking to avoid crowds.
Insider Index: Busiest Airports for Thanksgiving 2011
Los Angeles International
Los Angeles, CA
Chicago O’Hare International
San Francisco International
San Francisco, CA
Boston Logan International
New York LaGuardia
New York, NY
John F. Kennedy International
New York, NY
Newark Liberty International
Insider Index: Top 10 Least Busy Thanksgiving
Mineta San Jose International
San Jose, CA
John Wayne Airport
Santa Ana, CA
Palm Beach International
Palm Beach, FL
San Antonio International
San Antonio, TX
Cleveland Hopkins International
Port Columbus International
5 Tips for Enjoying the Journey of Holiday Travel
Airport amenities and recent rule changes by the TSA can make traveling over the holidays easier, faster and even fun. Tornatore suggests five tips to help you enjoy the journey, not just the destination during holiday travel.
Parents: Leave those laces tied!: A recent rule change by the TSA allows children 12 years old and younger to leave their shoes on when going through airport security—a welcome change and time-saver for parents. So be sure to have your children keep their shoes laced-up when waiting in the security line.
Delightful distractions: Another great perk for parents of young ones are airport play spaces and interactive exhibits. Several airports, such as Chicago O’Hare International and San Francisco International Airport have special areas designed with kids in mind. For example, at O’Hare, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Chicago Children’s Museum have teamed up to develop Kids on the Fly. The interactive exhibit occupies children with airplane models, control towers and more. Meanwhile, adults looking to unwind and pass the time until their flight might want to consider purchasing a one-day airline club pass. Most clubs offer free Wi-Fi as well as beer, wine and cocktails as part of the entrance fee. Visit the Orbitz Blog for more delightful airport distractions while traveling over the holidays.
Do it ahead and online: Checking in and printing boarding passes at home (or downloading a virtual boarding pass to your smartphone) is a great way to skip past lines at the airport. Make sure to have a seat assignment, too. Baggage fees for some airlines are lower when paid in advance online, so consider that option as well. Finally, check the status of your flight before leaving for the airport. Orbitz customers can receive alerts on their smartphones, that can also be sent to up to six friends or family members meeting them at the airport.
Map out airport transportation and parking options: Some airport lots let you make advance reservations, while others provide real-time information on availability in each lot. Another option is to skip driving to the airport altogether by ordering a shuttle or sedan service, with reservations for many airports available on Orbitz.com or other online sites.
Choose alternate airports: If you haven’t booked your Thanksgiving travel yet – or if you’re looking ahead to Christmas or New Year’s – consider using alternative smaller airports. These are often easier to navigate and less crowded. For example, if you’re traveling to San Francisco, consider flying into San Jose or Sacramento, two of the least-busy airports serving the greater Bay Area. Chicago travelers might have better luck with Midway International (MDW), while those heading into or out of the Los Angeles area may save time by going through John Wayne Airport in Orange County.