Last-Minute Holiday Airfare Sales Launched

In the past week, a few airlines have launched holiday airfare sales, targeting Thanksgiving and/or Christmas travelers. If history is any guide, we can expect to see more such deals in the coming days.

The question is, are these sales worth it? That depends.

Find a Last-Minute Thanksgiving Deal

Limitations of Holiday Sales

Back in September, air travel analyst Rick Seaney talked about holiday shopping and noted that while “the odd deal can crop up now and then, you cannot count on this” and that’s still true. One of the big reasons you can’t count on current holiday sales is they may not offer deals on the days you want to fly. Some examples:

  • Frontier Sale for travel Nov. 17-26: Upon closer inspection, FareCompare notes that at least some deals are good only on Thanksgiving Day and beyond
  • JetBlue Sale for travel Nov. 20-Dec. 20: A review by FareCompare notes that not all of these deals are available on the most popular travel dates

It should be noted that anyone hoping to find a true bargain will be disappointed – the prices of these holiday deals are at best only relatively cheap. Airlines know people want to fly at Thanksgiving and they price their tickets – even the deals – as high as the traffic will bear.

The Secret Discount: How to Save 20-60% on Flights

How Holiday Deals can Work for You

This is not to say these sales are worthless. On the contrary, some routes will offer the best prices on the days some travelers want to fly. Others may be able to split the difference by snagging a sale fare on at least one of the days they want to fly. And don’t preclude traveling on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22). Besides being the cheapest day to fly during this period, it also means relatively uncrowded airports plus if you fly early enough you’ll arrive in plenty of time for turkey.

Note to procrastinators: If you want to fly during the Thanksgiving holiday, you must buy now or you risk not finding a seat at any price, but do compare prices to be sure you’re getting the best deal available.

Taking Advantage of ‘Mistake’ Airfares

More Holiday Deals Coming

Last year at about this time, Southwest offered a last-minute Thanksgiving sale which featured deals such as Los Angeles to Phoenix for $154 one-way which isn’t great but may look good to a procrastinator and it wouldn’t surprise us if we see similar promotions crop up later this week.

British Airways meanwhile, has gotten a jump on Christmas with a one-day sale on business and first class flights to Europe for holidays.

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Published: November 14, 2012