Cheapest Flights for Thanksgiving Available Starting Next Week

This year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 22 which is just a little more than 10 weeks away. That means it’s time for some to begin shopping for airline tickets, according to airfare analyst Rick Seaney – for the rest of us, he says, it’s time to start making plans. Where do you fit in?

Listen as airfare expert Rick Seaney gives you the low-down on Turkey Day travel:

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Shop Now, Here’s What to Pay

“If you want to lock in the most convenient dates and times for your trip,” said Seaney, “now is the time to shop.” Otherwise, he said, wait a week. That’s when Thanksgiving flights will begin getting a little cheaper.

Prices vary widely depending on flight routes but Seaney provides the following general rule-of-thumb for ticket prices:

  • Long haul routes (1,500 miles or more): $425+ round-trip
  • Medium-haul routes (from 500 to 1,500 miles): $300+ round-trip
  • Short-haul routes (up to 500 miles): $120+ round-trip

Ticket prices normally increase the closer it gets to the holiday but travelers will see the least increase on the short-haul routes.

When to Fly for Cheapest Tickets

During the Thanksgiving travel period, there are a couple of sweet spots. Cheapest days to fly:

  • Depart Monday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 19)
  • Depart Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22)
  • Return any day but Sunday or Monday after the holiday (Nov. 25-26); save about 15 percent to 20 percent.

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No ‘Cheap’ Airfares

Do not expect to find cheap flights. Airlines know this is when folks want to fly – the busiest travel season of the year – so the airlines are poised to cash in. “Right now,” said Seaney, “Thanksgiving week airfares are garnering a 50 percent to 70 percent premium compared to fares on the same days on the following week, and this is typical of holiday pricing.”

Again, early birds who want to lock up convenient days and times to fly should start shopping this week; otherwise, begin next week but don’t wait much longer. Seaney said he does not expect to see last-minute bargains this year.

Thanksgiving Tickets: More Expensive This Year

Flights during Thanksgiving week will be slightly higher than last year, said Seaney, who blames this on a handful of domestic airfare hikes earlier this year, as well as the airlines’ assumption that demand will be high.

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Published: September 10, 2012