According to checkpoint data from Transportation Security Administration, Fridays are the most popular day to fly in the majority of weeks. Just before Christmas, travelers might face one of their busiest Fridays yet: Friday the 23rd of December.

This date is expected to be the busiest day of the year for a number of reasons. Fridays are a popular day for flyers. However, the day before Christmas Eve is historically very popular no matter what day it falls on. You can expect a double surprise this year as the Friday before Christmas Eve falls on Friday.

But that’s not all. This day also marks the eighth day of Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebrations begin shortly thereafter. Many travelers may be arriving at airports to celebrate multiple holidays in one short time.

NerdWallet analysed the TSA’s travel data for the past three years to understand travel patterns and determine the best times to fly Christmas.

Christmas Day is a good day for flying?

The airport crowds increase dramatically in the days leading up to and following Christmas. However, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day crowds tend to be light. Crowds tend to decrease the further you are from your holiday.

Christmas Day has been a popular day to travel.

Friday is a very busy day for travel.

No matter what season, Fridays are always busy at airports. This is the day when many business travelers return home while vacationers fly off to the weekend.

The average number of passengers at U.S. airports in the first eight months 2022 was 21% more on Fridays than on Tuesdays (the busiest day for air travel).

Day of

Average travelers pass through TSA checkpoints at U.S. Airports between Jan. 1, 2022 and Aug. 24, 2022

2.2 million.

2.18 million.

2.14 million.

2.11 million.

1.9 million.

1.89 million.

1.82 million.

Trends in

These were the busiest days for travel at U.S. Airports in the seven days preceding Dec. 25, and the three-year period:

Day of

TSA checkpoints for travelers





The top day for air travel leading up to Christmas in 2021 was Thursday, December 23. Friday travel on Friday was very light in 2021, possibly because people didn’t want to travel on Christmas Eve.

In 2020 Wednesday, December 23rd — the day just before Christmas Eve — was once again the most flocked day to fly.

Friday, December 20, 2019, was the most popular travel day in 2019. This is despite the fact that it was a long way from Christmas. It suggests that travelers wanted to start their celebrations as soon as possible.

Dec. 23 falls between, or just before other winter holidays.

Kwanzaa, a week-long holiday, is celebrated every year between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. There’s also the eight day celebration of Hanukkah that takes place from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Families who want to enjoy the last days of Hanukkah with their loved ones might consider traveling on Dec. 23.

However, with large crowds and high costs, Dec. 23 is probably the worst day to travel on all three winter holidays. These are some other options.

A smarter, more affordable departure date for Christmas flights

It might be a good idea to travel after work on Fridays if you have a Monday-Friday work schedule that coincides with federal holidays. This year, Christmas is observed Monday, December 26, 2012. This is the most common schedule, and you will pay for it both in terms and literal price.

If you are able to be flexible, avoid Friday’s departure and instead try these travel days.

Fly earlier in the week: If possible, work remotely and take days off, fly earlier. Expedia flight data shows that travelers will save 15% on average by flying in the first half the week, rather than the Thursday or Friday before Christmas. For some destinations, savings could be as high as 30% to 35 span>

Expedia stated that round-trip flights from the U.S. to Cancun, Mexico on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before Christmas are $200 less than those departing on Thursday and Friday.

NerdWallet examined the TSA passenger statistics over the past three year for travel on Christmas Day. Christmas was the day with the most traffic every year. Flying on Christmas Day may not be so difficult if you combine the low crowds and the hope that everyone will feel merry.

Take a Christmas Eve trip: It’s crucial that you reach your destination before Christmas morning. If this is the case, then taking a Christmas Eve flight is your best option. Although Christmas Day is more crowded than Christmas Day, Christmas Eve is usually the most crowded of the seven days leading up to the holiday.

On average, domestic airfares are $100 cheaper to fly to Christmas Eve than to fly to the next day, according to Hopper, a travel app.

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