The Best Airports for 2019 Thanksgiving Travel

Top down view of a Thanksgiving dinner on a table
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With Thanksgiving travel set to hit near-record levels again this year, Mobile Passport has rounded up a useful list of the best U.S. airports based on international wait times. The study is based on an analysis of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Wait Time tool for the 12 days of Thanksgiving’s 2018 window, from November 16, 2018, through November 27, 2018, to predict the busiest days and times for this year’s Thanksgiving holiday at 25 of the U.S. airports with the highest international passenger volume. 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport had the best wait times, according to the report, followed by San Jose, Baltimore – Washington, Charlotte Douglas and Philadelphia to round out the top five. The best days to arrive at U.S. airports are the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, with anticipated maximum wait times of 29.7 and 29.4 minutes, respectively. 

Overall, average wait times for U.S. passengers range from 4.9 to 14.1 minutes during the Thanksgiving holiday period, while average maximum wait times range from 18.7 to 44.4 minutes. 


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What’s the best time to arrive? The lowest maximum wait times, on average, occur daily between 10 and 11 p.m. and 1 and 2 a.m. The highest maximum wait times occur between 4 and 6 a.m. 

This year AAA is forecasting 55 million people will make a trip over Thanksgiving, the second-highest level since the organization began keeping track in 2000 and representing a 2.9 percent increase over next year. Air travel in particular will be up 4.6 percent, with approximately 4.45 million Americans expected to take to the skies. 

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