Lonely Planet Writer

How to avoid the Memorial Day Weekend air travel chaos

This coming Memorial Day Weekend, an estimated 41.5 million Americans are expected to travel, according to data released by flight compensation company AirHelp. Based on information from 2017, the study also showed that more than 8500 flights (20% of all flights from the weekend) were disrupted or cancelled last year, impacting over 825,000 US air passengers. With one of the busiest travel periods of the year nearly here again, the company has outlined information that may prove beneficial for people planning their getaways, in the form of the top ten most disrupted flight routes.

1. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to San Francisco (SFO)

LAX sign
Los Angeles International to San Francisco proved to be the most disrupted route in 2017. Image by ©Fuse/Getty Images/Fuse

Every year for the past ten years has seen Los Angeles International Airport seeing a steady increase in passengers moving through the airport, with 2017 breaking records with over 84 million people arriving and departing. 2018 is expected to be no different, with current figures estimating that LAX could have an even busier year.

2. San Francisco (SFO) to Los Angeles International Airport (SFO)

San Francisco International Airport at dusk.
San Francisco International Airport at dusk. Image by ©Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

“Last year, flights between Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport experienced the most disruptions, so travellers may want to consider flying out of neighbouring airports, like Oakland International Airport near San Francisco, or Hollywood Burbank Airport near Los Angeles, to avoid the largest crowds and disruptions,” said Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp.

3. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) to San Francisco (SFO)

Group of people standing in queue at boarding gate. Focus on female hand holding suitcase handle. Busy Airport line and que
2017 proved to be the busiest Memorial Day Weekend for travel since 2005. Image by izusek

It seems passengers passing through San Francisco on Memorial Day Weekend last year were especially unlucky, with the airport taking appearing in seven of the top ten most disrupted flight routes.

4. Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to San Francisco (SFO)

Planes at Seattle Tacoma International Airport.
Planes at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. Image by Don Wilson, Port Photographer / Seattle Tacoma

5. San Diego International Airport (SAN) to San Francisco (SFO)

An airplane approaching San Diego Airport. Image by K.C. Alfred

While sharing their data of the most disrupted flight routes from 2017, AirHelp also highlighted that passengers should educate themselves on how best to negotiate their experience as customers. “Whenever people prepare to travel, and especially during busy travel times like Memorial Day Weekend, it is important for travellers to understand their rights if they experience disruptions while traveling,” Henrik Zillmer said.

6. Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK)

Boston to Nantucket was sixth in the list of most disrupted flights for Memorial Day 2017. Image by Erlon Silva – TRI Digital/Getty Images

7. San Francisco (SFO) to Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

Dawn at the Golden gate bridge from Baker beach, San Francisco, California, USA
Seven of San Francisco’s routes were the worst affected for Memorial Weekend last year. Image by Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

8. Denver International Airport (DEN) to San Francisco (SFO)

The view of a Denver International Airport runway from the control tower.
The view of a Denver International Airport runway from the control tower. Image by Denver International Airport

9. Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)

Last year showed the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend to be the busiest for travel. Image by ©normalfx/Getty Images

Memorial Day Weekend 2017 was also the busiest for travel since 2005, with 90% of those travellers (34.6 million people) driving somewhere.

10. New York John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

An arrivals board listing New York JFK Airport.
An arrivals board listing New York JFK Airport. Image by TommL

Last year also saw Friday 26 May being the busiest for airport travel over the entire weekend, and passengers hoping to cut overall travel time may consider travelling on either the Thursday 24 or Saturday 26 May this year.