DFW, Love Field Airports Anticipate Large Holiday Crowds

Crowded airport line | Image by Shutterstock

Robust travel demand over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will put DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field under the stress test this year, considering both airports are anticipating a record number of passengers.

More travelers are anticipated to pass through the two Dallas-based airports this Thanksgiving holiday than at any time since the summer of 2019, according to flight schedule data from Diio by Cirium.

The two airports are expected to have their busiest days on November 27, the Sunday following Thanksgiving, and December 23, the day before Christmas Eve.

Roughly 323,200 total passengers are expected to travel on November 27, based on scheduled airline flights and seat counts out of DFW Airport and Love Field. In comparison, 2,900 fewer passengers are expected to travel on December 23.

“Thanksgiving is always packed because it’s a condensed holiday,” said Scott Keyes, founder of travel deals website Scott’s Cheap Flights. “With Christmas, it’s a softer peak, but you don’t have as many options with Thanksgiving.”

Examining travel demand at the two airports reveals that the only days with fewer than a combined 275,000 expected passengers are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

Demand on Thanksgiving day is expected to have light to moderate airport traffic compared to prior or following days, with only 173,000 combined scheduled seats on arriving and departing flights.

“Demand for the entire holiday period, however, is very robust,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said last month during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “And with travelers having a lot more flexibility and mobility relative to work, I think you’re going to see a busy period for the Thanksgiving week throughout the week.”

The two busiest remaining travel days at DFW International Airport are November 27, with 260,000 scheduled seats, followed by December 23, with 257,047 seats. DFW is expected to be the second-busiest airport behind Atlanta, according to a Thanksgiving Travel 2022 Outlook Report by the travel website Hopper.

On the other hand, Dallas Love Field’s top five travel days are December 21-23, 28, and 30, with each day consisting of 63,286 scheduled seats, according to Cirium.

Despite having a more consistent flight schedule than DFW, Love Field saw the second-most travel disruptions of any airport in the country during the summer of 2022 and the Thanksgiving week of 2021, just behind Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, according to Hopper.

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