Holiday travel, with its bustling roads and busy skies, is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie. This year, travel industry leaders are striving to prevent the chaos that has tarnished past holiday seasons. They’re also appealing to travelers to remain calm during inevitable flight delays.
Mike Whitaker, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) administrator, reminded passengers on social media platform X to treat flight crews with respect. He emphasized the FAA’s strict stance against unruly behavior, a policy introduced in 2021 that includes legal repercussions for passengers who act violently or threateningly towards airline staff.
Despite this policy, the FAA reports a worrying rise in aggressive incidents onboard. This Thanksgiving period will be a crucial test for travelers’ patience and the aviation sector’s capability.
An estimated 38,000 flights were scheduled for departure on Thursday, while about 55 million people are traveling by car to visit loved ones. Flightaware.com noted 312 cancellations and over 6,000 delays early Thursday morning, on top of 18,000 delays on Wednesday, with Los Angeles International Airport experiencing the most hold-ups.
Travel activity is expected to remain high throughout the week. The Transport Security Administration (TSA) predicts nearly 3 million people will fly back on Sunday, potentially breaking the record set on June 30 this year. The TSA anticipates screening 30 million passengers from November 17 to 28.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske anticipates this holiday season to be the busiest on record, surpassing seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA’s history. He assures that the TSA is prepared and working closely with airlines and airports for the holiday rush.
The FAA cites weather as the primary cause of flight delays this year, accounting for 73.3% of delay minutes. The National Weather Service warns that heavy snowfall in the northern and central Rockies and High Plains could disrupt travel on Thursday, with Arctic air affecting much of the northern United States.