Is Christmas Eve A Busy Travel Day?

April 25, 2023

Winter is when we think of traveling to visit loved ones. Everyone has time off from school and work for the holidays, so it's the ideal season to gather or just get away from the daily grind. Unfortunately, the winter months also come with some of the busiest travel dates, which means longer lines and higher likelihood of lost baggage. Furthermore, winter comes with another problem for travelers. Snow in many states leads to an increased number of flight delays, so plan diligently this time of year.

busy airport terminal

Air travel volume has returned to pre-Covid levels. In 2019, the TSA screened a record-breaking 2,870,746 passengers on one day in December, conventionally the busiest day of the year for air travel. This year, The Parking Spot expects to see that record broken. So, what are the busiest travel dates for winter? You could find the answer to this question by combing through ticket prices in search of spikes and dips throughout the month of December (airfare fluctuates with demand). But, we've done the research so you don't have to worry about it. Here's what you need to know before you make winter flight plans.

The Busiest Travel Dates for Winter

Consider avoiding travel on these busy dates if you can help it:

November 28 - The weekend after Thanksgiving marks the time when people are just finishing up Black Friday shopping and have a couple of days off of work to fly.

December 1 - The first day of December is a popular air travel date for those planning extended, even month-long, vacations.

December 23 - This is the day before Christmas Eve, and people everywhere scramble to make it to their loved ones before the holiday.

December 26 - As soon as Christmas is over, many people need to get back home to work and other responsibilities. If you can wait a couple of days to get home, you'll experience fewer crowds at the airport.

December 27 - Many people know that the airport will be bustling on December 26th and wait till the 27th to fly. They don't consider how many people had the same idea. Until after New Year's Eve, terminals will be crowded. If you can, avoid air travel until after the 27th.

Now you know what days you shouldn't travel. Which dates are likely to provide you with a better travel experience at the airport?

The Best Travel Dates for Winter

Consider planning your air travel on these dates to avoid hassle:

December 20 - Typically, people don't need more than a couple days of leisure time at a destination before a holiday. December 20 is just far enough in advance of the major holidays to avoid the biggest crowds.

December 24 - People who celebrate traditionally want to be with their loved ones on Christmas Eve. They're typically with families, not at airports. As far as winter travel dates go, December 24 is one of the lightest.

December 25 - Like Christmas Eve, this major holiday is customarily a family day, not one for travel. The 25th might be the slowest day for air travel this winter. If you get creative with your holiday plans, you're sure to avoid airport crowds.

December 31 - Most people would rather party to celebrate a new year than spend the day airport hopping. But, if you're more interested in getting where you need to be while avoiding crowds and saving money, New Year's Eve is a light day to fly.

Bonus Travel Tips

For one reason or another, the slowest winter travel dates above may not work for you to travel by air. There's no need to worry. Here are a few more quick tips to help you plan your holiday.

  • Travel on Tuesdays: Year round, Tuesday is typically the slowest day of the week for air travel. When you can, schedule travel mid-week instead of on weekends.
  • Fly on National Holidays: Holidays at airports are not typically as lively as the dates surrounding them. If you can plan festivities on the day before or after a national holiday and travel on the holiday itself (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.), you're likely to have a better experience at the airport. This goes for most major holidays.
  • Don't Check a Bag: If you must travel on a busy winter travel date, pack light. You'll save yourself the hassle of lost baggage if you only take a carry-on. If gifts are part of your holiday tradition, purchase small items like jewelry, and leave them unwrapped until you arrive. Better yet, shop at your destination rather than at home.

When you travel any time of year, let us help by caring for your car while you're away. Find out if the Parking Spot is located near your airport, and save money on airport transportation this year!

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