Why Some South Florida Airports Will Be Busier Than Others Over Thanksgiving

Nov 15, 2012

Nationwide, flights on the busiest travel days, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Wednesday and the Monday after Thanksgiving, are expected be 90% full.
Credit Matt Hurst/flickr

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport will be a very busy airport this Thanksgiving holiday.

In fact, it's going to be the 10th busiest in the country, according to booking data from the travel company Orbitz.

Every year Orbitz releases lists of the busiest and least busy airports for Thanksgiving.

While as many as 80,000 people will be coming in and out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International on a single day Thanksgiving week, Palm Beach International will probably be much quieter. It made Orbitz’s list of least busy airports. Miami International made neither list.

Greg Meyer, spokesman for Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International, said there is are simple explanations for the differences.

"Palm Beach International doesn't go to as many destinations nonstop as Fort Lauderdale does, and we have more domestic service than our neighbors to the south,” Meyer said.

Miami-International Airports flights are about 50-percent domestic and 50-percent international.

Airlines for the America, a trade association, forecasts nearly 24 million passengers will fly over this Thanksgiving holiday season nationwide which is a hair more than last year.

But, this year’s numbers are still 10 percent below the peak travel years of 2006 and 2007.

For those who love your elbow room, pay attention: planes are going to be packed. Airlines for America expects flights on the busiest travel days, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Wednesday and the Monday after Thanksgiving, will be 90 percent full.

Meyer said that's because airlines are trying to be more economical.

“If they can reduce the number of crew, or reduce the number of fuel used they would rather have one plane fly near capacity,” Meyer said. “It's more efficient for them and it's better for the passengers because people will get a good rate."

Meyer also warned people need to be prepared for busy airports.

Miami International Airport spokesman Marc Henderson suggested these tips for holiday travelers:

  1. Check your flight before you leave your home, and check in at home if you can
  2. Arrive early—Henderson suggests arriving 2 hours early for domestic flights and 2 ½ hours early for international flights
  3. RELAX, it’s your holiday after all