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Delays, cancellations & lost luggage: Holiday air travel by the numbers

Getting home for the holidays can be a nightmare, especially if you're flying.


There’s no place like home for the holidays. 

But getting there can be a nightmare, especially if you’re flying.

Whether it be delays, cancellations or lost luggage, 2018 was one of the worst years in terms of flight disruptions. 

The top two worst travel days is the Wednesday before and the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

KHOU 11 Investigates analyzed cancellation numbers airlines submitted by the U.S. Board of Transportation.

The numbers show that last November, 938 Southwest Airlines passengers were stranded at airports, followed by 557 United Airlines and 510 American Airlines customers.

Southwest reported the highest number of cancellations in both 2016 and 2017—220 and 473 cases, respectively.

The National Aviation System canceled or delayed flights nearly 7 percent of the time, while airlines made the call 5 percent of the time. Extreme weather rarely played a role.

But those are not the only reasons people got bumped from flights. The airlines also reported what is known as “over sales,” commonly known as overbooking. Southwest has done it the most the last three Novembers with 5,084 cases, followed by American (2,344) and United (823).

The airlines also reported last November they lost 140,030 passengers’ luggage. 

Southwest reported 98,862 lost bags. American came in second with 74,812 and United had 42,574.

Regardless of where they land, airlines typically encourage passengers to pack a small carry-on. They also recommend giving yourself more than an hour lag time if you have a connecting flight.