Papers returned: Thanksgiving expected to be busiest day on US airlines

Image copyright JetBlue Image caption This JetBlue iPad lets customers watch movies on the plane as they wait to board

The busiest travel day of the year is coming up soon, and Thanksgiving is typically a strong period for American airlines.

They’ll likely find those skies crowded again this year, as the holiday falls on Wednesday 2 November.

This is a bonus for travellers, but airlines are bracing for the summer peak.

In a blog post, Airlines for America – a trade group – described the days in November and December last year as the “greatest travel days in the nation”.

The group expects about 700,000 more travellers for the three-day period, with 82.3m people in the air.

One of the busiest routes that runs through New York is the 800 miles-plus (1,212km) of New York-Newark, New Jersey-to-Miami direct flights.

JetBlue is expanding its investment in movies on flights, and will add a 12-month subscription for travel through November.

Image copyright JetBlue Image caption This JetBlue iPad lets customers watch movies on the plane as they wait to board

It is also giving out custom-designed iPad chargers to passengers, offering a case where their seat is half-submerged on the plane.

American Airlines will have upgraded TVs with high-definition content from 15 manufacturers. Some of the more unusual movies being offered this year include Asterix and Obelix, a film about French comic hero Asterix and Obelix, and Wet Hot American Summer.

United Airlines will have in-flight WiFi this Thanksgiving, and will also be giving out non-water-fresheners and packages from its pet accessories supplier in-flight.

Image copyright American Airlines Image caption This digital binocular display will let customers take notes and share on social media while they wait for their flight

Airlines such as Southwest have done away with their assigned seats, and the more relaxed travel style is causing delays and cancellations.

For example, earlier this week, a Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Phoenix had to be diverted to Grand Forks, North Dakota because a passenger got out of her seat and was sitting on her computer.

The authorities informed her to sit in the aisle seat, so she took off her shoes, covered herself with her seatbelt and sat next to him. It was seven-and-a-half hours in the air before they landed.

Image copyright US Department of Transportation Image caption Thanksgiving is the third busiest travel day, next to Christmas Day and Easter Sunday

This year the Department of Transportation is releasing a free mobile app so that the next time you fly you can check your flight status before you even leave the house.

Click here to download the app.

The agency is advising that travellers expect delays and inform others that you’ll be waiting.

“Know what the airport is doing to alleviate delays, ask questions when the airline loses your bags, and have a plan for dealing with delays and cancellations,” the US Department of Transportation said in a statement.

“Try to take control of your travel experience and remind others to do the same”.

Image copyright TravelSnob Image caption This PlayStation game machine is being given away to passengers on Thanksgiving Day

President Trump’s trade war with China is likely to spread holiday travel problems around the world, with airlines unsure about where duties will end up.

Image copyright Ben Guerard Image caption A HobbyWareplay app will let the luggage-bearing drink-trolley drift its way along the conveyor

Japan Airlines expects to report a loss of 18bn yen ($170m) for October to December, and says it could have to raise money if the trade war continues beyond March.

North Korean Air and Air China could also face troubles, analysts say.

The Eastern Mediterranean Sea region may be particularly affected by sanctions, according to Thomas D’Aquino, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine.

The possible impact on the trade in Turkey is particularly important, he told BBC News.

“Airlines do a lot of business in Turkey, and if you are talking about sectorwide disruptions from the trade war, that could be very large and you could have ripple effects in a lot of places,” he said.

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