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Worst airports for Thanksgiving travel: Surviving turkey day trips

Well, it is that time of year again, when families look forward to getting together with extended family members, catching up with old friends and sitting down for a traditional meal of roast turkey, stuffing and pecan pie. But for the majority of us, we first have to face busy airports, weather delays, long lines and cranky airline staff who would rather be on vacation themselves.  I call it stress-fest!


With over 20 million passengers flying over the period surrounding Thanksgiving, there are bound to be some stressful moments as everyone tries to get from point A to point B on time, with their luggage and family members in tow. I did a little research using Visible Intelligence to determine which airports were considered stressful or busy during last year’s holiday travel period. Based on social conversations it seems like Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, JFK and San Francisco (see word cloud graphic) were the most mentioned by travelers as having long lines, delays or causing stress. So if your holiday plans include those airports this year, as a seasoned traveler who gets on a plane to visit family every year to celebrate turkey day, I recommend the following:

  • Check in online before you get to the airport.
  • Be prepared: Get to the airport early. Give yourself plenty of time. You may also need to make a reservation at the long-term parking lot.
  • Know the rules: Get informed about what you can and can’t bring in your carry-on. Items like cranberry sauce, gravy and wine are not allowed.
  • Bring plenty of snacks: You never know what they will have available on the flight, so bring your own treats.
  • Stay hydrated! Bring your own water bottle and fill it up once you are through security.


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