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Delta soars into Thanksgiving period building on strong operations

Official Delta projections put the total estimated customer count between 6.2 million and 6.4 million from Friday, Nov. 17-Tuesday, Nov. 28 – averaging 515,000-530,000 customers a day.

A customer walks through LaGuardia Airport.


Delta is soaring into the Thanksgiving travel period on the tails of the airline’s strong operational performance over the past six weeks, ready to carry more than 6 million passengers for one of the most important U.S. holidays of the year. 

Official Delta estimates put the total estimated customer count between 6.2 million and 6.4 million from Friday, Nov. 17-Tuesday, Nov. 28 – averaging 515,000-530,000 customers a day.  

“We know how important this holiday is,” said Matt Sparks, S.V.P. - OCC & Ops Analytics. “This is a valuable time that folks like to spend with their family, friends and loved ones, and we want to make sure we get you there on time and get you back home safely again.”

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Interview sound bites Matt Sparks, S.V.P. - OCC and Ops Analytics
B-roll Delta's Operations and Customer Center
B-roll Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)

As always, customers are encouraged to arrive at the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international. Additional time may be required on Friday, Nov. 17, and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26-27) – all expected to be the peak travel periods of the season. 

Delta’s Operations and Customer Center serves as the airline’s “mission control” for more than 4,000 flights a day – staffed 24/7 and constantly communicating with crews and frontline teams to ensure the most seamless, safe and on-time service possible, even through high volume and weather challenges. Among many other functions, the OCC maintains its own meteorology team, constantly monitoring forecasts for weather and turbulence and working with other Delta experts around the clock to adjust flight plans and schedules as necessary. 

“In addition to monitoring the weather conditions and everything that we’re up against, this team here is working directly with the FAA and all of their air traffic control programs and figuring out how we navigate the system,” Sparks said. “We also have representatives from all over the airline, from our airports, maintenance, and reservations, so they can handle situations in real time and make sure that we get the quickest resolution for our customers and keep the operation moving.” 

Customers are encouraged to consider the following tips (also found in our Customer Guide to Traveling with Delta) to make your journey even more pleasant: 

Download or Update the Fly Delta App 

Delta’s digital tools offer quick and seamless options to make changes to your itinerary – either in the Fly Delta app or on

Most times, the app provides the same tools and flexibility as a call to our Reservations center – allowing customers to make changes in real-time while on the go. Click on the “Today” tab in the app for boarding information, upgrade status, baggage location and key self-service shortcuts like same-day changes. The tab is updated in real-time with the latest and most important information customers need to make sure you never miss gate changes or a change in boarding times. 

Make sure to log in with your unique SkyMiles membership number and mobile number, ensure Fly Delta notifications are turned on in your device settings, and keep an eye out for any emails or text messages you receive from Delta with essential updates on your flight status, travel documents and what to know before you go to the airport. (This information is also available in My Trips.) 

Ready for a visit to a Delta Sky Club? Tap “More” and select “Delta Sky Club” to find a nearby Club or partner lounge at your airport of choice. Clubs will display four occupancy levels ranging from “not busy” to “extremely busy” to help you better plan your visits. 

Pack Thoughtfully 

Remember to take anything you might need on the plane, like phones or medication, out of your checked luggage first. Lithium batteries are prohibited in checked baggage. 

Be mindful as well of TSA’s 3-1-1 rule and ensure any liquids are correctly sized and packed appropriately in a quart-size bag in your carry-on. If you’re checking bags, use the self-tagging kiosks for your checked bags at Delta’s airport lobbies to speed up the check-in process.  

Arrive at the Airport Early 

Due to the anticipated high number of holiday travelers, customers are encouraged to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight time. While Delta, TSA and other partners will be working extra hard to manage the additional volume, security, checking bags and other processes may take a bit longer than usual. But, Sparks said, customers can count on the same excellence Delta people deliver every day. 

“Delta folks are the best in the business. They take care of our customers so well,” Sparks said. “They’ll do their best to get you to your destinations safe, clean, on-time, with bags, and we’ll have a great holiday.” 

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