Visualization of Flight Searches Reveals Our True Thanksgiving Travel Plans

The most popular destination this Thanksgiving may not have been mom and pop’s house, but rather Miami Beach or Disney World, according to a telling visualization of airline search data.

It’s a well-known fact that air traffic spikes on Thanksgiving weekend. But data journalists at The Upshot were curious to learn whether our flight patterns on Thanksgiving also differ from the average week. To find out, they trawled through Google Flight’s database of 3.6 million round-trip searches for the two weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. They compared the results against a “typical” two weeks of travel, adjusted for the population sizes of the origin and destination cities.


Screenshot from The Upshot’s flight search data visualization. Red indicates popular origins while blue indicates popular destinations. The width of the route reveals the increase in air travel demand on Thanksgiving. Check out the full animation here.

The result? An awful lot of people—way more than usual—were looking to go to Miami, Orlando, Vegas and Honolulu this week. Huh! Apparently, the image of an extended family gathered round the dinner table might be more a little more accurate if we replace dinner table with “beach front bar” or “roulette wheel.” We’re also a nation of procrastinators, as revealed by the fact that the most searched flight time this year was noon on Thanksgiving itself.

Of course, these are just search results, not actual booked tickets. Maybe, after briefly indulging in fantasies of white sand beaches, most of us did end up going home at the last minute. Er....did you?


[The New York Times]

Follow the author @themadstone

Top image: Shutterstock


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