U.S. Airlines Expect a Record-breaking Number of Travelers for Thanksgiving 2023 — and Share Which Days Will Be the Busiest

Delta, United, and American all expect the number of travelers for the holiday to surpass 2019.

<p>Sam Hodgson/Getty Images</p>

Sam Hodgson/Getty Images

Major airlines in the United States are expecting record numbers of travelers this year over the Thanksgiving holiday period.

United Airlines, for example, told Travel + Leisure it expects to have its busiest Thanksgiving ever with more than 5.9 million people flying from Nov. 17 to Nov. 29. That’s 13 percent more passengers than last year and nearly 5 percent more than 2019.

All that will be supported by an average of more than 3,900 flights per day.

Similarly, Delta Air Lines told T+L it expects to fly between 6.2 million and 6.4 million passengers from Nov. 17 through Nov. 28, also an increase compared to both 2019 and last year. The carrier expects the busiest days to be the Friday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 17, and the Sunday and Monday after the holiday, Nov. 26 and Nov. 27.

American Airlines expects to welcome the most travelers with more than 7.8 million customers forecast to fly with the airline from Nov. 16 to Nov. 28. The volume of passengers will mark the most trafficked Thanksgiving ever for the carrier with Nov. 26 expected to be the busiest travel day.

“We are running the best operation in our airline’s history,” David Seymour, American’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “As our customers travel to spend time with their friends and loved ones this Thanksgiving, we look forward to continuing to deliver a safe and reliable operation they can count on, and that’s thanks to the hard work of our more than 130,000 team members.”

This year, holiday flights are also forecast to be more expensive than in the past. Flights for Thanksgiving, specifically, are expected to be about 12 percent pricier than last year, according to a recent study.

But while domestic travel is consistently busy — and pricey — for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s actually a great time to travel internationally. In fact, travelers can often find great deals on international airfare during that time and hotels around the world offer Turkey Day-themed experiences to celebrate.

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