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November 26, 2014

If you love Thanksgiving (who doesn’t?), consider planning trips through Chicago’s Midway Airport and Las Vegas’s McCarran International airport next year. Why? By the end 2015, the two airports will experience Thanksgiving-like congestion every single day. (So no more alone-time suitable for Celine Dion sing-alongs).

That’s the latest from the U.S. Travel Association and research firm Cambridge Systematics, Inc. who looked at the 30 busiest American airports in their annual study. A steady increase in demand combined with an equally steady underinvestment in infrastructure is making Thanksgiving-level congestion the new normal.

Here are more of the findings:

Thirteen of the thirty airports studied already experience congestion levels equivalent to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at least once a week. This is up from just six in 2013.

Twenty airports will see Thanksgiving-like congestion at least twice a week within the next five years.

The T+L Take? It’s no secret that American airports are less than stellar. Our 2014 World’s Best Awards didn’t see a single U.S. winner in the top five airports worldwide. Governments and private investors are, belatedly, realizing the sorry state of American airports, and hopefully a jump in investment will help some key players (see here and here).  But it will take more than new iPads and fancy chefs to prove these predictions wrong.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.

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