Travel Tips: How to Avoid a Turkey of a Flight for Thanksgiving

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Avoid the annual travel nightmare of navigating airports to make it to your Thanksgiving destination.

Although being with friends and relatives for Thanksgiving is fun, getting to their houses can be a nightmare of crowded airports and delayed aircraft. To help those traveling by plane avoid a turkey of a flight this Thanksgiving, RewardExpert analyzed the performance of the top 10 domestic airlines at the 45 busiest US airports during the holiday as well as the performance for 5 days before and after Thanksgiving Day.

“Getting stuck in the airport is the last thing travelers want when they’re going home for the holidays, which is why Reward Expert is crunching data to inform travelers of where the most delays have been reported and which airlines were responsible,” says RewardExpert CEO and co-founder Roman Shteyn. RewardExpert is a free service that helps travelers redeem miles and points for flights.

When to travel for the fewest hassles

If you can make it to the table before the stuffing gets cold, then fly on Thanksgiving Day because it has the fewest reported delays.

If you want to swoop in early like Superman to help with the cooking and cleaning, then book a flight that takes off on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Beware of Tuesdays. The Tuesday before T-Day is the worst day to fly to your holiday destination and the Tuesday after the big gathering is the worst day to return home.

The best day to head home is the Friday after Thanksgiving when many are either gobbling up Black Friday deals at the mall or leftovers at their kitchen tables. If you must head home on the weekend, choose early Saturday because delays increase over the weekend.

Best and Worst Airlines for Thanksgiving

Hawaiian Airlines came in at the top spot with a 94.4% on-time performance rate.

Delta has an 88.8% on-time performance rate.

United has an 83.3% on-time performance rate.

American Airlines has an 82.6% on-time performance rate.

Southwest Airlines has a 79.4% on-time performance rate, among the lowest of the airlines analyzed.

Frontier Airlines has a 78.7% on-time performance rate, the lowest of the airlines analyzed.

Best and Worst Airports for On-Time Performance

Honolulu International Airport has a 91.8% on-time performance, the best in the US.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport has a 79.6% on-time performance, the worst in the US.

What to do if your flight is significantly delayed or canceled

RewardExpert recommends checking your credit card for the following services:  access to an airport lounge; insurance benefits for trip delay or cancellation insurance; a concierge service that can rebook your flight.

Overview of on-time performance ranking of the 45 busiest domestic airports

45 busiest domestic airports