With Thanksgiving just a week away, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is ramping up for what it believes will be the busiest winter holiday travel season in the airport’s history.
Between the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years travel seasons — DFW expects to see more than 7.4 million customers this winter — a 6.4% increase compared to the same time last year.
DFW expects to see 2.9 million customers from Nov. 16 and Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving.
The Sundays before and after Thanksgiving are expected to be the busiest days during the travel period. On Sunday, Nov. 19, the airport predicts it will see more than 241,000 customers. On Sunday, Nov. 26, it expects to see 249,000 customers.
And while Thanksgiving is expected to be crowded at the airport, the winter holiday period surrounding Christmas and New Years should be even busier.
DFW expects 4.5 million travelers from Dec. 14 to Jan. 2. With a projected 245,000 customers, the airport expects Friday, Dec. 22 to be its busiest travel day. More than 243,000 guests are expected on Friday, Dec. 15, and more than 241,000 travelers are expected on Thursday. Dec. 21.
“DFW Airport is eager and ready to greet our Thanksgiving and winter holiday customers,” Ken Buchanan, DFW’s Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and Revenue Management, said in a release. “As we demonstrated over the summer – which was the busiest on record – we have an efficient and helpful staff that will focus on providing an exceptional experience for our guests.
Buchanan recommended travelers prepare for the holiday rush by visiting DFW’s website or mobile app before heading to the airport, planning their parking ahead of time and checking security wait times before leaving home.
During Fridays in December — dubbed “Festive Fridays” — the airport will feature live local music inside the terminals for customers to listen to while waiting for their flights.
The airport recommends customers arrive at least two hours before flight departure given the increase in holiday traffic this year. DFW is also encouraging travelers to consider pre-booking parking spots, which are expected to sell out quickly. Parking lot occupancy levels can be viewed from the airports website.
Parking in garages at Terminals C and D tends to fill up faster than other garages, the airport said. If travelers can’t find parking, DFW recommends park and going through security at Terminals A and B be before taking the Skylink train to their terminal and gate.
Fort Worth-based American Airlines launched its largest winter flight schedule out of DFW ever earlier this month. The carrier has about 20% more seats available this winter, with nonstop flights from DFW to more than 225 international destinations.
Jim Moses, American’s senior vice president of hub operations at DFW, said the airline believes there is a “tremendous” amount of pent up demand for travel.
“We think there is going to be robust demand for travel that will continue through the holiday period,” Moses told the Star-Telegram.
This winter, American is also servicing more than 50 departures each day from DFW to Mexico, more flights to the country than any other airline hub in the U.S.
Moses said American has been planning strategies for the winter season since last year in anticipation of high demand and the potential for severe weather.
“We know there are going to be situations and times with weather that are really outside of the airline’s control, but we’ve spent a lot of time on the recovery piece,” Moses said.
Moses said the airline has been hiring more people and developing technology to better navigate severe weather. American has also been working to recover from disruptions the next day rather than several days later.
“Hiring really hasn’t let up in quite some time at American,” Moses said. “We are staffed and ready to take care of our customers, many of which will be traveling winter around the upcoming holidays.”
DFW Airport is the second busiest airport in the world and expects to see 80 million travelers by the end of the year, an all-time record for the facility. By the end of the decade, the airport projects it will serve 100 million passengers per year.
The airport has plans for a $4.8 billion expansion to add a sixth terminal. With the construction of Terminal F, as well as a significant overhaul of Terminal C and upgrades to Terminal A, the airport will gain a total of 24 additional gates over the three terminals.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is also in talks with the DFW Airport about leasing gates as early as 2025.