Holiday Travel Report: 25 Busiest U.S. Airports Announced

Last updated on 09/04/2020

WARWICK, R.I., Dec. 19, 2019 -- In an effort to help empower travelers to make more informed decisions when it comes to holiday travel preparations, InsureMyTrip predicts which US airports will likely be the busiest, and reviews how the latest data trends can aid travelers when comparing travel insurance benefits.

Summary:

  • Chicago O'Hare International and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International will be the busiest airports in the country during the 2019 holiday season
  • Passengers should check crowd-sourced airport security wait times by using the My TSA application and prepare for longer lines during Christmas week
  • Passengers with departing flights at busier airports are more likely to utilize a travel delay benefit and, therefore, may want to compare travel insurance policies with better delay protection

Busiest Airports This Christmas
InsureMyTrip predicts these airports will be busiest during 2019 Christmas week, based on total domestic flights reported for 2019 thus far:

  1. Chicago, IL: Chicago O'Hare International (busiest)
  2. Atlanta, GA: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: Dallas/Fort Worth International
  4. Denver, CO: Denver International
  5. Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Douglas International
  6. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles International
  7. Seattle, WA: Seattle/Tacoma International
  8. Houston, TX: George Bush Intercontinental/Houston
  9. Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Sky Harbor International
  10. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco International
  11. Detroit, MI: Detroit Metro Wayne County
  12. New York, NY: LaGuardia
  13. Las Vegas, NV: McCarran International
  14. Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis-St Paul International
  15. Newark, NJ: Newark Liberty International
  16. Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia International
  17. Boston, MA: Logan International
  18. Washington, DC: Ronald Reagan Washington National
  19. Orlando, FL: Orlando International
  20. New York, NY: John F. Kennedy International
  21. Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake City International
  22. Baltimore, MD: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall
  23. San Diego, CA: San Diego International
  24. Fort Lauderdale, FL: Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International
  25. Washington, DC: Washington Dulles International

InsureMyTrip analyzed non-stop domestic flights by major air carriers collected in 2019 thus far by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Longest Estimated Security Wait Times
According to InsureMyTrip, here's a general look at the time of the week when security wait times for passengers tend to be the longest:

Airport / Busiest Day and Time / Average Wait Times

  1. Chicago O'Hare International — Sun. between 8 am - 9 am (30 - 45 min)
  2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International — Mon. between 7 am - 9 am (30 - 45 min)
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth International — Sun. between 6 am - 7 am (15 - 30 min)
  4. Denver International — Sun. between 9 am - 10 am and Sat. 8 am - 10 am (30 - 45 min)
  5. Charlotte Douglas International — Sun. 1 pm - 2 pm (60 min or more)
  6. Los Angeles International — Varies* (15 - 30 minutes, most of the time)
  7. Seattle/Tacoma International — Sat. 6 am - 8 am (30-45 min)
  8. George Bush Intercontinental/Houston — Wed. 2 pm - 4 pm and Fri. 5 am - 6 am (30 - 45 min)
  9. Phoenix Sky Harbor International — Tues. 5 am - 6 am (15 - 30 min)
  10. San Francisco International — Thurs. 8 am - 9 am and Fri (15 - 30 min)

This data was collected by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and analyzed by InsureMyTrip. Data only includes standard wait time estimates for the busiest US airports, based on the latest historical data available. Does not include wait times for TSA PreCheck passengers. Los Angeles International is listed as varied wait times, due to no clear day and time when extended wait times are more likely to happen.

Both the TSA and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provide information on wait times at airports and border crossings.While security wait times are dynamic, travelers can check crowd-sourced airport security wait times by using the My TSA app prior to departure.

Best Protection For Flight Delays
Based on these data results, travelers can make smarter choices about their travel plans and travel insurance purchases. For example, passengers with departing flights at busier airports are more likely to utilize a travel delay benefit and, therefore, may want to compare travel insurance policies with better delay protection.

"If travelers are made aware of the probability of delays, they can then use that data to help them compare travel delay benefits when considering a travel insurance purchase," says InsureMyTrip Intelligence Analyst Danny DeMello.

Travel delay benefits vary with each travel insurance provider. Typically, the wait period for travel delay benefits go into effect is between a 5 and 12-hour window. The benefit is designed to provide reimbursement for reasonable meals and accommodations while unable to travel.

Tip: Travelers must be delayed for a certain number of hours before this benefit can be applied. When comparing travel insurance, look for the minimum delay time (typically, starting at 5 hours) to start qualifying for coverage as soon as possible.

Best Protection For Delayed Bags
Travelers may also want to ensure baggage delay coverage is included under a selected comprehensive travel insurance plan. Baggage delay coverage generally becomes active after belongings have been delayed for a specified period of time, typically 12 or 24 hours.

Tip: When comparing travel insurance, look for a maximum per-person coverage amount. For example, some policies may offer a more generous max limit, like $500 per person to purchase incidentals.

Best Protection For Missing Cruise Departure
For those concerned about a delayed flight adversely affecting a cruise or tour departure, travelers may also want to ensure a missed connection benefit is included under a selected comprehensive travel insurance plan. This benefit is designed to provide travelers with coverage if a delayed flight (for example, of 3 hours or more) causes a traveler to miss a cruise departure.

To schedule an interview with an expert or to request specific U.S. airport research data, please contact [email protected]

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SOURCE InsureMyTrip