Normally, I am on the earliest flight out of NY to get to Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. This morning, travelling with my 83 year old M-i-l, we took a later (9:15am) flight.

I braced myself for the crush at security and — nothing. We walked up, were the 3rd people online, and breezed through.

Southwest, like Jet Blue, invariably flies with jampacked aircraft — was surprisingly light. I’d estimate the plane was 10-15% unsold. That is unusual for Southwest and unheard of on a major travel day.

Anyone else have Turkeyday stories to share?

Category: Consumer Spending, Economy, Travel

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

39 Responses to “Light Travel Day”

  1. xon says:

    My dad was a ticket agent, and thus we got standby passes pretty much whenever. As any standby traveler knows, you don’t try to fly in the days surrounding the holidays. You’ll never get there. If you want to get where you want to go, travel on the holiday. . .

  2. Mannwich says:

    My wife and I stayed in Minneapolis for the holiday (she has to work this evening). Since it was just the two of us and a friend, we decided to do something different and go out to eat Thanksgiving with a friend. The restaurant was pretty busy. A little surprised but I didn’t really know what to expect since we never go out to eat for Thanksgiving.

  3. That sounds more like a NY economic indicator than a nationwide indicator.

  4. BR,

    btw, I didn’t mention as much on the other thread, though, certainly, deep into the old adage book, one finds: “And ye shall know them by their Fruits”.

    With that, one knows you’re a Good Dude, your site, TBP, and your views have helped a great many. Sounds backward, but, to me, it’s another thing you should remember to be Thankful for.

    Hope you, and yours, are Hale & Hearty.

    and, also, remember, when in the lead, stretch it out (HT: the Tortoise and the Hare.)

  5. Patrick Neid says:

    Currently on small island in Caribbean that has only one of two five star layouts in entire Caribbean. A famous Thanksgiving buffet with three seating’s. Last year all tables full–app 200 people at $70 per–at first and second seating’s. This year at the 2pm seating there were 15 people. We were shocked.

  6. Jojo99 says:

    Owner Earnings said “That sounds more like a NY economic indicator than a nationwide indicator.”

    I think you might be wrong.

    Airports almost empty day before Thanksgiving
    Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Thursday, November 27, 2008

    (11-26) 17:43 PST — The dreaded Day before Thanksgiving was not so dreadful after all.

    Bay Area airports were eerily empty for much of what traditionally has been among the busiest travel days of the year.

    Matthew Kuo, 6, of Sunnyvale, has plenty of room to play …The Continental ticket counter in Terminal 1 had no lines.

    Traditions appeared to die a swifter death this year than many a turkey. Travel costs money, something a lot of people don’t have right now.

    “There’s nobody here,” said Deborah Vainieri, who was waiting at San Francisco International Airport with her husband, Humberto, for a flight to Portland.

    In a plot to beat the crowds, the Vainieris had arrived at the airport four hours early. They walked right up to the check-in machine and were done in less than a minute. Then, at 1:02 p.m., they walked to the main Terminal 3 security line and found themselves all alone.

    There was nobody in line ahead of them, not a single person.

    “Now what do we do?” said Humberto. “We have four hours to kill.”

    Full article

  7. Boomer108 says:

    On business trip yesterday to Dallas from NYC, airports on either side were not crowded! Security took 10 mins. My first direct experience of this recession. Night and day from what we had been expecting.

  8. dulleshomeguy says:

    In DC yesterday lots of people rolling suitcases on the streets and metro. Linen Restaurants were busy to 1/2 full on a “dead night”. Sbucks and Chipolte types were bustling.

  9. Dude says:

    Car travel out of the North Bay area east on I-80 was wall to wall cars. We were biking faster than they were driving.

  10. Winston Munn says:

    Mystery of the Missing Traveler Solved!

    From gardenrant.com:

    “40,000 Gleaners Show Up on Colorado Farm
    Wow. Crop gleaning is the wise and ancient practice of picking up the leftover food that doesn’t get harvested when the workers (or, now, machines) move through the fields. A lot of food banks have volunteers who work as crop gleaners–around here, they will even come harvest your backyard apple tree if you’d like to donate the fruit.

    So this farm outside Denver opens its fields to anyone who wants to pick the remaining potatoes and carrots left over after the harvest–and 40,000 people show up.

    40,000 people. To dig free potatoes out of the dirt.”

    Looks like Americans would rather eat than fly.

  11. Mannwich says:

    With gas prices so low (I heard here in the Twin Cities as low as $1.55/gallon!), could it be that many people chose to drive for their Thanksgiving travel this year?

  12. Mannwich says:

    @Winston Munn: By the way, my wife is originally from CO (Fort Collins), near the Greeley farm where this event occurred. We were just in CO and her parents filled us in about this and it’s absolutely 1,000% true. Hard to believe but true……

  13. Mannwich says:

    @WM: Sorry for the double post, but had another thought about your post. Also heard that they were only expecting maybe up to 1,000 people at most and that the police had to be called in for crowd control, as they were stunned to find 40,000 people show up instead.

  14. This strikes me as evidence revealing why one should fear a melt-up. Most everyone is looking the other way…

  15. Winston Munn says:

    The only thing lower gasoline prices mean is that more folks will drive to the food shelter instead of using public transportation.

    “The number of working people using food banks has hit an all-time high as donations dwindle, says the 12th annual Hunger Count survey, which is taken each March. The 2008 Hunger Count was taken in March — months before the onset of the fiscal turmoil that’s now rocking global markets. Nationally, donations to food banks have already dropped as families hunker down amid worsening economic news.”

    State goverments have budget shortfalls. State pension funds are losing millions. Unemployment will continue to rise throughout 2009. Home values continue to fall. Debts are written off. Worldwide, about $36 trillion in wealth has evaporated – it will take a lot of fill-ups at $20 bucks a pop to catch up – and how much of that savings will go for anything other than staples when 40,000 people show up outside of urban Denver to dig up waste potatoes?

    Gasoline prices are a symptom – gasoline prices neither created the credit bubble nor caused the bubble to collapse. That was caused by a flawed economic model based on debt-based consumption.

    And like they say in the South – that dog just don’t hunt anymore.

  16. Winston Munn says:


    Maybe it is only my personal bias, but I am concerned that as a country we are facing a serious disconnect between reality for the well-to-do and reality for the rabble. Our main stream media seems to look the other way when it comes to information that may not fit with continued accolades for the present political agenda – housing in Detroit comes to mind, the massive losses in the New Jersey pension fund, another, as well as 40K people showing up on a farm to dig up potatoes….

    And in America – if it’s not on the 6 O’clock news, it’s not real.

  17. CPJ13 says:

    Good friend of mine made it from Long Island to north of Boston in just over 4 1/2 hours. Left at 5PM on Wednesday. That commute is usually a disaster, and she gets in around 11:00. She said there was nobody on the roads.

    Nobody driving – nobody flying? Hmm…

  18. Mannwich says:

    @WM: You and are I squarely on the same page there. I’ve been saying for years that our clueless, reprehensible mainstream media are literally an appendage of the elite and therefore have been utterly disconnected from “Main Street” for years now, which is why they have so little clue about what’s going on in the “real world”. The same goes for “brilliant” Wall Street “analysts” or anyone else who is cloistered in that well-to-do bubble of sychophantic backslappers. Too many of these folks don’t know or hang around with anyone outside of their little elite circle.

    A perfect example of that is most of them cavalierly dismissing Obama’s rise in the election. I saw this coming last year (and predicted precisely what would happen right up to the economic collapse giving him the final push in the fall) for crying out loud and I’m no genius, but many of our so-called journalists and political “pundits” were still cluelessly dismissing his rise right up until the end. Much of that rise was about the non-elite being so fed up with things that they’d give a virtual unknown a chance to run this country, with many voting against their racial prejudices in the process. People are starving for real leadership in every sector of this country, especially in the political and corporate spheres. I’m not saying he’s going to provide it, but I saw this coming.

    As a result, mainstream media outlets deserve to die a quick, not slow, death. They’ve lost touch with the original purpose and mission of their JOBS. Thank GOD for the blogosphere. It’s really been a true beacon of light for many of us during these trying times.

  19. Mike in Nola says:

    Does Southwest really fly to New York? I’d much rather fly on Southwest than any other airline: very pleasant to deal with.

    Looks like it may be a good time to visit Vegas, not that I’ve ever had the desire to. This story sounds like what some others here are describing.


  20. Mannwich says:

    @Mike in Nola: I believe it. Vegas (and Macau) is going to be begging people to come stay in its overpriced, overleveraged, overrated hotels. Rates are going to be amazingly low next year but unless there’s a nice pool, why go and lose all your money there when you can stay home and do the same thing in our “markets”? I’ve been there twice in my life and it’s basically somewhat fun for 1-2 nights, tops. After that, I feel like need to get the hell out of there. Just a very strange place. Not healthy at all. I have no desire to go back, even at those low rates. Would rather get similar low rates somewhere with a beach and ocean.

  21. DP says:

    @Mannwich: You might be right about the driving. I-4 between Orlando and Tampa was packed both ways.

    If you’re cutting back on holiday expenses which will you cut first? Travel to see relatives a thousand miles away or gifts for your closest family – those you live with. This situation doesn’t apply to everyone of course, but is more common than not.

  22. Winston Munn says:


    Had to borrow from that link you provided:

    “The taxi driver, a guy in his 30s from Brazil who had been in Vegas for 10 years…. He bought 8 years ago for $170,000, says his house is now worth $230,000….”

    So, according to the story, there was a 20-something from Brazil who had been in town for 2 years, working as a taxi driver, and he secured a home loan for a $170,000 house?

    I guess the only amazing part is that he is still in the house.

  23. kfunck1 says:

    My cousin flew in from Chicago to New Orleans last night. She said Midway was empty and there was no more than 20 people on the flight. On the other hand, we went out to eat at Mr. B’s, an old-line French Quarter NOLa classic, and it was packed the entire time we were there (1-4).

  24. Mannwich says:

    Sorry to be off-topic, but this would seem to bode well for SRS, no?


    It’s down to low 120′s after a high of 280 or so last week.

  25. Mike in Nola says:


    Please keep this quiet. I have a buy order in at 82.


    That just shows NOLA’s priorities and obsession with food. True New Orleanians would rather drive an old car and live in a dump than not eat well. I suppose I’m showing my age by thinking of Mr. B’s as a “new” restaurant. Had a wonderful creme brulee with a praline crust there in 2003 celebrating a very nice settlement.

  26. Mannwich says:

    @Mike in Nola: I don’t think it’s going to get that low. If it does, I will be thrilled. I’ve been playing this trade like a fiddle over the past few weeks (after an initial screw up when I hastily got in and out to early due to Hank’s initial bailout that seems like eon’s ago).

    Started buying in the high 70′s shortly after the initial bailout pushed it way down close to its 52-week low, slowly kept adding more in the low 100′s-120′s and dumped it all at 240-270 last week. Got back in and bought some more on Tuesday and Wed. I almost feel like there has to be a “catch” (of course there is, it’s called more government intervention) because otherwise this trade would be far too easy. The quote in the article says we’re probably in the “1st innning” of the commercial real estate crisis.

    If I had Steve Barry’s cojones, I’d go all-in on SRS & QID, but alas, my better half would kill me if I took that chance and failed. Gotta play it a little safer in case Hanky decides to bail everything and everyone out, including the malls. They’re still two of my biggest plays right now though.

  27. kfunck1 says:

    Mike in NOLA: Haha, indeed it does, and I don’t apologize for it one bit! Now if we could just get a handle on the damn crime :(

  28. Michael M says:

    Just got back from London – two random data pieces:

    My friend who works there for AllianceBernstein just received an email stating that the company would not give any pension contribution in November and December, but would start again in January. That’s roughly a 10% unnegotiated salary cut! Note especially the irony here – AllianceBernstein is an asset manager that makes a living running people’s pension money!

    We went to a big, upmarket steakhouse called Sophies and because of the financial crisis everything was 50% off in November. I also saw a sushi place where everything on the belt was 40% off. I have never seen anything like that before in Europe.

  29. Ken M. says:

    Looks quiet all over the U:. http://www.flightstats.com/go/Home/home.do

    Click on any airport, and the “delay index”(s) are all “low”.

  30. Mike in Nola says:


    My move from NOLA to HOU will be permanent soon. Ursuline nuns are buying our house. When I’m over here in Houston, the nola.com site is pretty discouraging. While good food is much harder to find here, my wife likes not having to be scared every place she goes by herself, even though we are not in the burbs.

  31. Mike,

    no good food in Houston? do you mean NOLA-style, or just good food? one of the great things about HOU, to me, is that if you don’t like the country you’re in, try the next block..the place has enclaves of ethnicities from many parts of the World..

    btw, as I mentioned to you before, if you need Furniture in HOU, check the Yellow Pages~

  32. Boomer108 says:

    Three thoughts:
    On holiday travel: (in addition to post above) My sister was going to go to Chicago to visit our parents – didn’t get tix when she learned it would be $2000 for her family to travel. So air fares may have had something to do with it, as well.

    On the elitism of the media: Two household-name evening newscasters’ kids go to my childrens’ schools here in Manhattan. A local nightly news guy does, as well. Plus a senior reporter for the WSJ. So that gives you a feel for the backgrounds we’re dealing with here.

    On investing ideas: Would love an open thread, Barry!

  33. Mannwich says:

    Whoops, how could I forget to mention this? The restaurant where we ate Turkey Day dinner was offering a free $50 gift card with the purchase of a $100 gift card or $25 card with purchase of a $50 card. Pretty good deal. We snapped up the $100/$50 and plan to give at least one away as a gift.

  34. Bruce in Tn says:

    Mike in NO:

    My wife and kids loved the two years we lived in NO…long before Katrina. At that time we were poor, and used to go to the mom and pop cafes along Lake Ponchatrain. Great food, low cost, and I got hooked on soft shell crab. We lived in Metarie, and bought our seafood from a little shop close to Veteran’s avenue… I also miss the true NO style Po-boys and mufellettas…

  35. jason says:

    My Mother-in-Law flew from South Texas to SF Bay Area to visit us on. Her flight was on Wednesday. She said she was very surprised by the lack of lines and people at the airport.

  36. jakester says:

    similar observations noted on other boards as well. significantly lighter Turkey Day air and road traffic then observed even just after 9/11, fairly robust Black Friday namely due to severe markdowns but so far, Saturday has shown ghost town malls across major vicinities in the US. From a trading perspective, even though we could still be sitting on the verge of a counter-trend rally, all economic signs are still pointing to the early stages of depression in my view. The news should still get worse but even stocks can rally for a while in a secular bear market.

  37. sunset_shazz says:

    San Francisco is typically empty around this time of year, as most people leave town to visit family. This year, plenty of traffic; most people seem to have stayed home.

  38. Arthur says:

    re the media, the Colorado farm and that 2008-style buffet 40,000 folks unexpectedly showed up for: it was covered on CNN. I’m no apologist for mainstream media but they were on it.

  39. khyron4eva says:

    Mike in NOLA:

    Love your city. Thought of retiring down there at some point. Miss a shrimp Po Boy. :( But I digress…

    Vegas baby! Love Vegas. Took advantage of some specials back in September before things got really stupid (the first bailout vote died the Monday before I left; was there for a week, Wed – Thu). I’d go back if I didn’t have some upcoming travel to plan for. Looking forward to those being cheaper; thankfully its travel in early 2009.


    I’m not at all surprised to see more stories of driving. A friend of mine from Detroit, who now lives here outside of DC, drove back to DET for Thanksgiving. Going and coming, she reported wall-to-wall cars. I paid $1.65 for gas at Shell the other day (or was it Sunoco?). Probably $0.05 less if I’d gone to Costco but it was Thanksgiving day. I can’t remember the last time I paid that little, but it was probably 2003.

    Of course, everyone keeps missing what this means long term for oil and gasoline prices. Guess what I plan to be long in about 6 months.


    Mainstream media does not CARE to be accurate, trustworthy or valuable. They don’t care to provoke thought. That’s not their mandate. So to even expect that is naive, IMO. Or maybe nostalgic. Keep the peasants distracted with entertainment – circuses and fights at the Coliseum. Ooops. Sorry. Wrong empire. What’s the modern equivalent?

    The empire is collapsing, and I figure it has to be by design.