Thanksgiving Travelers: Get Ready to Start Your Holiday Airfare Shopping

We’re not quite done with summer, but another big airfare period will be with us shortly. I’m talking about Thanksgiving – which this year falls on Nov. 22.

Listen as airfare analyst Rick Seaney and editor Anne McDermott hash over ways to save:

Thanksgiving: Most Expensive Travel Period

Thanksgiving is typically the most expensive time of year to fly, so it’s not too early to start planning your holiday shopping strategy. A little bit of pre-planning can save you a substantial amount of money.

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Thanksgiving: When to Book Airfare

You can start kicking the tires of airfare shopping sites now but hold off on purchasing your airfare for a few more weeks.

  • Window for shopping: From very late August/early September through mid-October.

Note: The earlier in the window you buy your tickets, the better.

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Thanksgiving: Most Expensive and Cheaper Days to Fly

Most expensive days: Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 21), Sunday/Monday after (Nov. 25, 26).

Cheaper days: All other days of the holiday period run about 10 percent to 20 percent cheaper than dates listed above. Cheapest of all is Thanksgiving Day which runs about 30 percent to 50 percent cheaper.

The following chart shows one-way prices from Los Angeles to New York, as of Aug. 6:

Flight Period Airfare Price
Early Nov. $165
Sun., Mon. or Tues. before Thanksgiving $235
Wed. before Thanksgiving $255
Thanksgiving Day $165
Sun. after Thanksgiving $310
Mon. after Thanksgiving $265


Thanksgiving: Look for Cheaper Airports

The closest airport to your destination is not always the cheapest. For example, travelers to Cincinnati can sometimes save big by flying into Dayton, just as flights to Long Beach can sometimes be less expensive that flights to Los Angeles International. Compare airport prices and you may save enough to make the longer drive to/from the airport worth it.

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Thanksgiving: Other Saving Tips

Travelers will often find that avoiding nonstops in favor of multi-leg trips will be cheaper, as will flying overnight or red-eye flights or traveling at dawn. Avoiding checked-baggage fees by using a carry-on is another way to save.


Published: August 7, 2012