Thanksgiving Travel Anti-Calendar: Worst Drive and Fly Times in the USA
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
When’s the best time to travel during Thanksgiving break? Answer: When everyone else isn’t.
With that in mind, we aggregated data from multiple sources to show you the absolute worst day and time to fly and drive in 10 major metropolitan areas. Think that the “worst times” must be the same for everyone everywhere in the United States — as in the days before and after Thanksgiving? Not really.
If you look at the busiest times to be in an airport, according to airfare-prediction app Hopper, you’ll see that in Atlanta, regardless of day, the worst time is always 8:40am. And yet in Houston, it’s 2:00pm. And for New York City it’s 5:30pm. Quite a difference.
A similar lack of consistency appears when you look at the worst times to be driving on the road according to AAA. While there are no bad morning times, things get hairy from 3:15 to 6:00pm on Wednesday in Los Angeles, but the window of awfulness is shorter in San Francisco, where worst drive time is between 4 and 5:45pm on Tuesday.
Now, we know that most people have already purchased their flight home or arranged a carpool, so it may be difficult to change plans. But crowds can be avoided — and 2017 will be one for the record books. The folks at AAA say that this will be the busiest travel time in the last 12 years, with nearly 51 million Americans transiting throughout the country. Congested airports usually mean delays, so make sure you’re equipped with a credit card that covers flight or baggage delays. If nothing else, you can consult the chart below just to see how screwed you may be.
|City||Worst Airport Time||Worst Drive Day and Time|
|Atlanta (ATL)||8:40 AM||Wednesday 3:00 — 5:15 PM|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||9:00 AM||Tuesday 3:15 — 6:00 PM|
|Chicago (ORD)||8:00 AM||Tuesday 5:00 — 6:00 PM|
|New York City (JFK)||5:30 PM||Tuesday 5:30 — 6:30 PM|
|San Francisco (SFO)||9:40 AM||Tuesday 4:00 — 5:45 PM|
|Boston (BOS)||6:00 AM||Tuesday 5:15 — 7:15 PM|
|Washington DC (DCA)||4:10 PM||Tuesday 4:45 — 6:00 PM|
|Seattle (SEA)||10:40 AM||Tuesday 3:45 — 5:30 PM|
|Houston (IAH)||2:00 PM||Wednesday 5:45 — 7:00 PM|
|Detroit (DTW)||6:50 PM||Tuesday 3:00 — 5:30 PM|
Featured image by Paul J. Richards/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees