Your Thanksgiving travel guide: Forecasts from airlines and best times to hit the road

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(NEW YORK) — Millions are expected to fly during the Thanksgiving holiday and airlines say they’re prepared for the travel rush.

Airlines this fall boasted the most full-time employees in 20 years, and industry leaders say airlines are well-positioned to handle the holiday uptick in passengers.

On the roads, AAA predicts nearly 49 million people to travel by car over Thanksgiving — up 0.4% from last year.

Here’s what you need to know:

Planes

Travelers staying in the U.S for Thanksgiving are headed to big cities like New York, Orlando and Los Angeles, according to Hopper. For international travel, Dublin, Cancun and Doha, Qatar, are topping Hopper’s list of most-booked destinations.

American Airlines expects to serve 6.8 million customers over Thanksgiving with more than 66,000 scheduled flights. American said Sunday, Nov. 27 will likely be its busiest travel day.

Delta Air Lines plans to carry nearly 6 million customers from Nov. 18 to Nov. 29. Delta also expects its peak travel days to be Nov. 18 and Nov. 27.

United Airlines is preparing for more than 5.5 million travelers between Nov. 18 and Nov. 30. Houston, Chicago O’Hare, Denver and Newark will be United’s busiest airports over the holiday. United anticipates Nov. 27 will be its busiest travel day since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Roads

This year is forecast to be the third-busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.

If you’re hitting the road on the day before Thanksgiving, the worst time to travel is between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., while the best times are before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m., according to transportation analytics company INRIX.

If you’re looking to head back home on the day after Thanksgiving, the worst road travel time is between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., while the best times are before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m., INRIX said. The same road travel advice goes for the Sunday after Thanksgiving as well.

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