Airports will be busy over the Thanksgiving holiday. No surprise there, right? But think about this: 61% of travelers plan to take a trip this year—that’s up 6% from 2014. Take a look at the infographic below for a list of the holiday weekend’s busiest airports, plus ideas for fun things to do at each. After all, you’re going to want to arrive early. Then read on for additional details on Thanksgiving’s busiest hubs.
The busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel, and how to pass the time at each…
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Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) will be the busiest airports for the third consecutive year based on the Orbitz® Insider Index, which analyzed the Orbitz.com® flight booking data of the top 50 U.S. airports over the Thanksgiving travel period (Nov. 25 – 30, 2015). Newcomers to this year’s busiest airport list are Denver International (DEN), Orlando International (MCO), Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW), and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL).
“With travel expected to be up 6%, those heading to airports this Thanksgiving will need to build in extra time to account for bigger crowds and longer lines,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor of Orbitz.com.” As expected, Wednesday, November 25 and Sunday, November 29 will be the busiest of the weekend. Travelers looking to avoid the crowds should consider flying out on Thanksgiving day and coming back on Monday, November 30, both the least busy of the holiday weekend.”
We’ve got your list of the least busy airports, too. This year’s list is split down the middle with five airports making the list for the second year in a row, along with five newcomers. Travelers flying in to Eppley Airfield (OMA) in Omaha, Kahului (OGG) in Maui or San Jose International can expect less stress and shorter lines, as they are the least busy for Thanksgiving weekend.
What does this all mean for your holiday travel plans? Busier airports mean longer lines, which mean you’ll need to allow yourself more time to check in and get through security. But not to worry: We’ve got a list of really cool things to do while you wait at the season’s busiest airports, too. Scroll down for a look.
FUN THINGS TO DO AT THE BUSIEST AIRPORTS WHILE YOU WAIT
1. Los Angeles International (LAX): LAX PUPS
Travelers passing through LAX and missing their pets at home should keep an eye out for LAX PUPS (Pets Unstressing Passengers). LAX’s therapy-dog program provides relief to the stress of travel. These dog de-stressors can be found at gates throughout the terminals and both dogs and handlers can easily be spotted by their red vests.
2. Chicago O’Hare International (ORD): Kids Zone and Staying Active
For those traveling with children in Chicago, the Kids on the Fly interactive play area in Terminal 2 brings the airport to life with child-sized model airplanes and a control tower that will keep the little ones busy for hours. For parents looking to stay active, consider purchasing day access to the Hilton Athletic Club inside the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare, accessible by underground walkway and the Airport Transit System.
3. San Francisco International (SFO): The Yoga Room
To take relaxation to the next level, look no further than the Yoga Room in Terminal 2 at SFO. The room provides complimentary mats and pillows to allow travelers to unleash their inner chill instead of stressing about busy airports and holiday crowds. Travelers who are not yoga enthusiasts can take advantage of spa offerings in each of the terminals, just steps away from passenger boarding gates.
4. Denver International (DEN): Public Art
Denver International Airport is known for its expansive collection of public art. From statues and murals to temporary exhibitions, there’s plenty to keep the artistic traveler entertained as you stroll through the concourses in between flights.
5. Boston Logan International (BOS): KidPorts
Traveling with kids this holiday season? If you’re headed through Logan International, keep an eye out for the Kidports in Terminals A & C. These children’s play areas have games and activities to keep the kids happy. For adults who need a break – what better way to relax than with a good book in a rocking chair in one of Logan International’s rocking chair rest zones.
6. John F. Kennedy International (JFK): Rooftops and Surprise Concerts
If you are flying out of Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 at JFK, you’re in for a special treat with the Jet Blue Rooftop Lounge, an outdoor area with a dog walk and views of the New York City’s skyline. You may even be lucky enough to travel through Terminal 5 during one of Jet Blue’s Live from T5 Concerts. These surprise shows occur on select Fridays and have featured performances from Taylor Swift, Aloe Blacc, and Ellie Goulding, to name a few.
7. Orlando International Airport (MCO): Day Rooms
Every once in a while you’re hit with a long layover, but you’re in luck if it happens in Orlando where you can reserve Day Rooms at the Day Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport (located within the airport). If you need a nap, a shower or access to an outdoor heated pool, book a Day Room and spend your layover in luxury.
8. Newark Liberty International (EWR): iPad Central
Terminal C at Newark is undergoing a major upgrade that includes 6,000 iPads – an iPad at nearly every restaurant seat. Travelers can pay their checks and monitor their flights while they eat by scanning their boarding passes on the iPads. So sit back and plug in.
9. Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW): Minute Suites
For travelers who have a few hours to spare and don’t want to be among the holiday crowds can check out Minute Suites at DFW‘s Gate D23. Ten sound-proof, private suites are offered and have a daybed for relaxing and computer with a 32″ screen equipped with Wi-Fi, flight tracking and DirecTV. Shower rooms and premier suites that offer a bigger space for families or multiple travelers are also offered.
10. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL): High-end Shopping
Travelers who want to spruce up their holiday garb, get a gift or just peruse, ATL offers high-end shopping with Salvatore Ferragamo, Ermenegildo Zegna, Bulgari in Concourse A, Swarovski in Concourse C, Michael Kors in Concourse E and Emporio Armani in Concourse F among many others.
- Los Angeles International (LAX)- De-stress with therapy dogs…yay, puppies
- Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)- Kids can play for hours on child-sized model planes
- San Francisco International (SFO)- Meditate and practice your downward dog in the Yoga Room
- Denver International (DEN)- Look at statues, murals and more public art as you stroll through the concourses
- Boston Logan International (BOS)- Check out the KidPorts for fun games and activities
- John F. Kennedy International (JFK)- Take in the sweeping view of the NYC skyline from the Jet Blue Rooftop Lounge
- Orlando International (MCO)- Reserve a Day Room at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (located in the actual airport) to recharge
- Newark Liberty International (EWR)- Monitor your flight and pay for your meals via iPad Central
- Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)- Book a sound-proof, private suite complete with Wi-Fi, DirecTV, computer and daybed
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL)- shop ‘til you drop at high-end spots like Bulgari, Michael Kors and more