When it comes to Thanksgiving air travel, the best and worst airports for on-time performance over the holidays are Honolulu International and San Francisco International, respectively, according to a new forecast from RewardExpert.com. On the airline side, Hawaiian Airlines was the best for on-time performance, reporting nearly 95% of its flights arriving and departing on time.
The company’s Thanksgiving 2016 Holiday Air Travel Forecast looks at the best and worst days to travel and the airports and airlines to avoid delays.
Nearly 92% of flights in and out of Honolulu International Airport were on time in previous years. Following Honolulu, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport had the second-best record for timely holiday flights, at 87.5 percent. Other airports with on-time flights are Charlotte-Douglas, Salt Lake City and Reagan National.
The news is not so good if you want to fly out of other airports. Besides San Francisco, others toward the bottom of RewardExpert.com’s list were Houston Hobby, Oakland International, Chicago Midway and Chicago O’Hare.
Other airlines joining Hawaiian in the on-time club included Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and United Airlines. Budget carriers Southwest and Frontier Airlines were at the bottom of the pack, being the only two carriers below the 80th percentile for on-time performance.
RewardExpert.com analyzed U.S. Department of Transportation flight data from the past five years and looked at the on-time performance of the top 10 domestic airlines at the 45 busiest airports over Thanksgiving. This forecast additionally examines the best and worst days to travel five days before and after the holiday.
For those who prefer to get home early for Thanksgiving, the survey recommends flying on the Monday before Thanksgiving to avoid delays. Tuesday is the worst day to fly before Thanksgiving. Last-minute travelers can take a Thanksgiving morning flight and still make it for their turkey feast.
The day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday — is the best day to fly home. The chances of getting delayed increase as the weekend progresses. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is still a good day to avoid the inevitable delays on Sunday, and the Tuesday after the holiday is the worst day to fly back.
How to Survive Holiday Travel
I’ve written extensively about how passengers can survive while traveling, especially during the holidays. Let’s say the worst has happened — your Thanksgiving flight has been canceled. Do not panic. I wrote this post — 12 Things You Can Do To Handle Flight Delays And Cancellations — with tips that will help you get on your way while your fellow passengers are still waiting in line to be rebooked. Click here to understand what your rights are if an airline cancels your flight and click here for my tips on what to do if the airlines lose your luggage.
You may have some time to kill in between your flights. And because it’s the holiday season, you know that airports will be packed. But there are several places that will take you away from the travel masses. I wrote this post — You Don’t Need Status to Get Inside an Airline Lounge — with a list of airlines and airports that have lounges that anyone can use, for a price. If you don’t have enough money to pay for lounge access, you can check out these 10 airport churches for refuge. And on the off chance you have to spend the night in the airport, click here for hotels to consider and click here if money is tight and you have to snooze in the terminal.
If you don’t want to sit quietly, I did a post on 10 great airports where you actually want to have a layover, thanks to activities like a pool, yoga rooms, casino games, rooftop terraces, art galleries and napping rooms. You can get in a workout, go shopping or eat a gourmet meal.
Finally, use my 10 tips for surviving holiday travel so you can get from Point A to Point B quickly and safely. Good luck with your travels — I’ll be on my couch at home!