Thousands of flights to run late, airlines warn Thanksgiving travelers

Sunny skies are expected, but Airlines for America says airports have drilled for potential downpours, storms and delays Airlines are gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving travel rush, with weather forecasts predicting sunny skies…

Thousands of flights to run late, airlines warn Thanksgiving travelers

Sunny skies are expected, but Airlines for America says airports have drilled for potential downpours, storms and delays

Airlines are gearing up for the annual Thanksgiving travel rush, with weather forecasts predicting sunny skies in many cities. At least 10 major airports will be packed on a holiday flight, and at least two are prepared for potential downpours, storms and delays.

Airlines for America (A4A), which represents the main US airlines, said the top two busiest airports were expected to be Atlanta and Dallas, with 30.5 million passengers expected. The second and third busiest would be Chicago and Miami, with 24.1 million and 23.4 million passengers respectively.

O’Hare airport in Chicago. O’Hare and its neighbor Midway airport were preparing for Thanksgiving flight delays. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

American Airlines expects to fly 61% more passengers on Thanksgiving than last year. Its spokesman, Ross Feinstein, said holiday travelers were being urged to keep holiday hours and travel plans flexible so that airlines could accommodate them.

Airlines for America said the world’s busiest airport was expected to be in Seattle, with more than 4.1 million people expected to pass through Sea-Tac International in the week before Thanksgiving.

It also said 13 airports were running full baggage processing centers, up from 13 in 2016. And it said travelers heading to Minneapolis, Houston, New York or Washington DC were expected to receive over 450,000 Thanksgiving turkey replacements this year.

“Customers shouldn’t worry about a long wait time,” he said. “We’ve run tens of thousands of simulations around the country and it’s definitely trending in the right direction.”

Weather-related delays are a major threat to Thanksgiving travel. The FAA reports that weather delay were blamed for almost 400 delays at major US airports last year. Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental was by far the worst, with 31,419 delay-related cancellations, and 34 flights out of 14 at Los Angeles International had to make emergency landings due to storms.

Airlines for America said airports have drilled for potential downpours, storms and delays. With Thanksgiving falling on a Wednesday, some travelers will be able to head for their destinations on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday. Others will have to endure a Friday, Saturday or Sunday flight.

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