Travelers using New York City-area airports experienced far fewer delays and cancellations over Thanksgiving week compared to last year, according to new data released by a passenger advocacy group.
Mild weather over the holiday is most likely the reason why those flying in and out of Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports faced fewer overall disruptions, the Manhattan-based Global Gateway Alliance said.
But the group said the numbers were still a welcome surprise: From the Sunday before Thanksgiving this year to the Sunday after, LaGuardia had 975 total combined flight cancellations and delays, compared to 1,631 during the same period last year, according to the analysis. Kennedy had 1,379 disruptions compared to 1,507 in 2014; Newark had 1,389 compared to 1,865.
Last year, a pre-Thanksgiving nor’easter pounded the mid-Atlantic region and threatened heavy snowfall on Long Island and in the city, though it didn’t deliver. Instead of snow, wet, slushy roads and pelting rain prevailed on the day before Thanksgiving, typically the busiest travel day of the year.
Congestion inside the airports also seemed lighter this year, airport officials said: Even with heightened security in the weeks after the Paris attacks and the usual holiday gridlock, terminals weren’t as packed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as in previous years, according to a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the three hubs.
“Over the years we’ve noticed people have changed their travel habits. They no longer fly the day before Thanksgiving — everybody used to do that, so it was always a busy travel holiday,” the spokeswoman said. “But then people started changing: Either they fly the day of, or they fly a few days before.”
Nearly 1.5 million passengers had been projected to use the three airports over the long Thanksgiving weekend, capped by huge crowds on the Sunday after the holiday as people go home.
While the overall picture of holiday air travel in the region appears to have been smoother this year, the Alliance’s data, which originated from FlightStats.com, showed that all three airports still placed in the top 15 in the country for most flight disruptions during Thanksgiving week: Newark placed 9th, Kennedy 10th and LaGuardia 14th, according to the analysis.
“We are grateful this year for the good weather over the Thanksgiving period, which made for significantly less delays for passengers as compared to last year,” Alliance chairman Joe Sitt said in a statement. “But when your airports still rank among the top 10 for most flights disrupted, the bar is too low.”