When Do Turkeys Fly? Use Data to Avoid Thanksgiving Airport Logjams

Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 09:45
Next week is Thanksgiving and 3 million Americans will be taking to the skies to visit family. Since I can work from virtually anywhere with an internet connection, I have significant choice over when I fly. When I am flying anywhere, but particularly for Thanksgiving, I do not want to get stuck or miss a flight. Speaking from experience, spending nine hours in an airport because you missed your flight around the Thanksgiving holiday is not a particularly appealing prospect.
To try to reduce my risk of getting stuck or having a flight cancelled I pulled up Tableau and created a dashboard allowing me to pick source and destination airports and visualize over the last 10 years which days have historically had the shortest delays and cancellations.
Surprisingly, I found that nationwide over the past 10 years the much hated Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday after actually are not the worst days to travel from a historic delay and cancellation perspective. The honors of worst days to travel go to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the Monday after.
Use the dashboard below, select your home airport and your destination airport and see whether you picked the right day to fly.
Data for the week before and week after Thanksgiving from 2003 to 2012 from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


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