LAX to be most crowded U.S. airport over Thanksgiving, Orbitz says

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Step aside, O’Hare. There’s a new winner in the busiest-airport derby and it’s LAX, which is expected to be the nation’s most crowded this Thanksgiving. Coming in next are O’Hare, Orlando International in Florida and San Francisco International, according to the annual Orbitz Insider Index. Among the least-busy airports? LAX’s little sister, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, San Jose International and Maui, Hawaii.

The travel company compiled its list of the busiest and least-busy airports based on flight reservations made via Orbitz between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27 at the top 50 airports in the nation.

So where’s everyone going? Angelenos are flying from LAX to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth and Las Vegas to share turkey with loved ones or take a holiday vacation. Nationwide, Orbitz says, New York, Chicago and Orlando are the top three destinations for U.S. travelers, with Los Angeles coming in fifth.

Holiday travelers can expect full flights though fewer people are expected to fly this holiday season, the Air Transport Assn. of America reports. The organization estimates that 23.2 million air travelers -- about a 2% drop from last year -- will fly in a 12-day period.


While demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006 peak, passengers still should expect full flights during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season as  airlines have begun to reduce capacity and limit the number of seats available for sale due in part to rising cost pressures,” ATA Vice President and chief economist John Heimlich said in a statement. “Based on published airline schedules, these cuts are expected to continue through the winter.”

As for traffic at LAX, the airport last year estimated that 1.53 million passengers would pass through the airport in a 10-day period bracketed by the Friday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The potential throng of holiday travelers at LAX this year may mean longer lines for everything, from airline luggage drop-offs to security screening.