Pumpkin Pie in Miami: Thanksgiving Flight Patterns

Search data offers some surprises about where Americans are planning to travel for the holiday.

Comments: 23

  1. As noted in the article, about 1% are flying. That number is dwarfed by the 46+ million who are traveling in general (probably an underestimate) who are going "home" for Thanksgiving. Once again, as we have for decades, we will host people in our home that we call "orphans", those who cannot afford either the time or money to travel to their family during Thanksgiving but want the feeling of "home". It is the least we can do for them.

  2. I have hosted many Thanksgiving dinners for friends and been fortunate enough to be invited to several. I've never thought of my friends as "orphans" in need of pity and have turned down a few invites when an offer is make in that light. When my friends accept my invitation to Thanksgiving, I am overjoyed and feel they are giving me a precious gift, not the other way around.

  3. Is the peak in noon flights also measured as the *additional* demand or are we just seeing the regular peaks of travel on a normal day?

  4. I refuse to fly during the holidays on principle. I hate price the price gauging by the airlines that makes my normally $200.00 flight jump to nearly $600.00! For an hour long flight! I will remain an off - season traveler for life!

  5. "Evidently a sizable 'Disney World effect' is luring many from Utah to Cinderella’s castle"

    Further proof that everything in "The Book of Mormon" was pretty much dead on...

  6. Regarding the procrastination about flying on Thanksgiving. A lot (most?) business are open on Wednesday and I know the University of Tennessee holds classes on Wednesday (though attendance is pretty sparse) so unless people want to take a day off or skip class they probably just settle for a late lunch or supper for Thanksgiving. Personally I can't really see going through the hassle of flying anywhere for a few days off especially given the regular stories of extended delays for Thanksgiving travel.

  7. I would be interested in a more detailed understanding of "departure" and "arrival" airports. Atlanta was highlighted for an increase in both arrival and departure flights. This could easily be artificially boosted based on Atlanta being a major hub and most flyers going to or from the southern states tend to fly through Atlanta. I have to ask did this study take into account the actual start/end airports or were all segments treated equally?

  8. Another fascinating analysis from The Upshot. I would have been interested in the relative activity between the Midwestern cities and Arizona/New Mexico vs. Northeast cities and Florida. Did Phoenix and Albuquerque not share data?

  9. My favorite part of the Destinations .gif are the two lonely little dots flying from Florida to Seattle. Wrong way, guys!

  10. Aren't flights also less expensive on the day of holiday? Not sure it can be classified as "procrastination".

  11. Right after Thanksgiving is the opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, the most prestigious fair of modern and contemporary art in the United States. Many collectors, gallerists, and museum professionals fly to Miami from major cities around the US and the world in advance of the opening of the fair and to celebrate Thanksgiving there.

  12. What a vast and complicated system. Looks like a lot of west coast transplants head back east for the holiday, while lots of people decamp from Boston and Washington. Interestingly, not much action into or out of New York.

  13. Each to his own, but I find the idea of flying to a Florida beach or amusement park for Thanksgiving mildly depressing. If you don't enjoy spending time with your family, there are always friends to share the harvest feast with. The very best Thanksgiving we never had was one when all the usual relatives were invited elsewhere and it was just our small nuclear family. We had so much fun cooking together and just lounging around. And there were plenty of leftovers just for us!

  14. One Thanksgiving it snowed in the morning so we were excused from driving to Brooklyn. I'd bought a turkey to make for leftovers so we cooked it on the day instead and made all the side dishes. Just the little family and the cats having a great meal then lounging around watching movies.

    And of course there was the snow man.

    So much nicer than the BQE.

  15. The solution? Have family members who live by the beach and a large Florida amusement park.

  16. anyway, th sun gives you skin cancer

  17. Welcome to the airline "hubs". Unless you want to pay through the nose, you can fly through Orlando and Denver to get from New York to Minneapolis.

  18. The reason I am flying home on Thanksgiving morning is that the cost of the flight was half the cost of the same flight leaving on Tuesday. You should consider that factor when deciding when travelers like me "choose" to fly.

  19. Interesting, but not surprising. The SLC - MCO pair is strange but not that strange. I wouldn't be surprised if JetBlue employees (a large number are based in SLC) are searching for other fares to MCO since they are pretty sure they won't be able to get on for free. Don't forget that the first week of December brings a tremendous amount of travel to Miami for Art Basel and all the other shows and parties taking place that week. I would definitely understand people looking to book an "extended Thanksgiving" and catch a little art party on the way out of town.

  20. I find this fascinating and see that it reflects how many upper-middle class grandparents from the northeast spend the winter in Florida. Their children are going to visit them, often with the grandchildren. Not everyone in Boston is a college kid from Florida, that would be absurd.

  21. What utter malarkey!

    You cannot link increased holiday air travel to any destination based on Google search data because (as the NY Times has reported) the airline's system are highly inflexible and fully utilized. In this day of packed aircraft on the lowliest routes, the thought that some thousands more, much less millions(!) will be traveling to ANY destination on one particular day is ludicrous.

    The ONLY conclusion to be drawn from the data is people have this urge or desire to go someplace other than "Home" for the holiday. This may be linked to the fragmentation of the concept of "family" lessening of the motivation to form herds and share the love and comfort of the season.

    This goes to show that sharp graphics can extend incomplete data to form an attractive invalid conclusion; the same technique that trumpets denial of Global Warming.

  22. The peak travel time of noon on Thanksgiving day is much more likely due airlines offering lower cost flights on those days i.e. in their bid to gouge customers who want to be with their families earlier.

  23. This article fails to acknowledge that flight prices varied considerably in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, which probably influenced demand and thus when people booked flights. When I was searching for flights, Tues/Wed were arguably the most expensive days to fly, whereas Thursday afternoon was the cheapest -- cheaper by over $400. (Flying on Sun/Mon wasn't an option for me because I had to be at school on Mon and Tues.) I would have loved to fly home on Tuesday evening or Wednesday given that I had Wednesday off, but I waited until Thursday for a more affordable flight. I wasn't waiting until the last possible moment because of work demands!