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The worst airports for Thanksgiving travel

Zachary Crockett / Vox

For US airlines, this Thanksgiving holiday may be the busiest in history: a record 27 million people have flights booked between November 18 and 29.

Typically, Thanksgiving travel picks up steam two days before the holiday, then peaks on the day before, as young adults scramble to make it home in time for grandma’s cranberry sauce.

Unfortunately, not all airports are equally equipped to handle this massive influx in traffic, and flight delays during Thanksgiving are quite common. Below are the 50 worst airports, according to the total percentage of all flights that are historically delayed. We also included the average delay time, in minutes.

The data comes from travel research site WanderBat, which sifted through six years of Thanksgiving flight data (2010 to 2015) from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, and compiled all flights with a delay of 15 minutes or more. They limited their analysis to the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday), and Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), and made the cutoff airports with a minimum of 200 combined flights over the six-year period.

Chicago fares especially poorly here: Chicago Midway (23 percent of flights delayed) and Chicago O’Hare (18.3 percent) both crack the top 10, and offer average delays of 17 and 10.3 minutes, respectively.

Five of the top 25 most-delayed airports are in New York: Syracuse Hancock (No. 4), LaGuardia, (NO. 7), Buffalo Niagara (No. 22), JFK (No. 23), and Greater Rochester (No. 24). Nearby Newark Liberty ranks third, with nearly one in five flights delayed.

Nine of the 10 most nefarious offenders fall east of the Mississippi River — and the largest congruence is in the East Coast.

Of course, delays are not merely a result of high traffic volume: late-year travelers are often at the mercy of weather. Historical flight data should be taken with a grain of salt, as prior years featured storms on the East Coast that drove up delay times.

Still, this data should be a good indication of what to expect at a number of airports across America. And if you’re one of the poor souls flying out of Akron-Canton or Chicago Midway on Thanksgiving Day, you might want to call mom and tell her to save you some turkey.