Best Time to Buy Thanksgiving Airfare

Thanksgiving turkey

Best Time to Buy Thanksgiving Airfare

Thanksgiving Day is Nov. 23. Even though it’s still weeks away, many U.S. travelers are already planning their holiday trips and that’s smart because Thanksgiving is one of the most popular and expensive travel periods of the year. From now on, prices will only go up so shop now and use this guide for tips on when to shop, when to fly and how to pack. Let’s make this year’s trip easy – and as cheap as possible.

LISTEN: FareCompare’s Rick Seaney shares more ways to save.

Best Ways to Find Thanksgiving Deals

Compare airfares: This is so basic but so important; you must compare airfare prices to find the best deal (and you must also check prices on Southwest’s site, the lone airline that does not share its fares). Don’t fall for the myth that there are one or two airlines that always have the best deals; it’s simply not true.

Set airfare alerts: When price drops occur, you’ll be alerted in read-time. Yes, it’s not very likely there will be much of a drop (if any) around Thanksgiving, but why not give it a try? It’s free so you’ve got nothing to lose.

Getaway Map: If you are flexible, this could work well for you. But even if it’s not so helpful at Thanksgiving, it’s still an excellent way to find extremely good deals around the world, year-round.

When to Fly for Thanksgiving

Some things to be thinking about now, especially – how to get the cheapest flights available for Thanksgiving. We’ve got some tips:

1. Avoid the most expensive days to fly

The Wednesday before (Nov. 22) and the Sunday after (Nov. 26) Thanksgiving are almost always the most popular days to fly and the most expsensive days to fly. Try to avoid them but if that’s not possible, try fly just one.

2. Fly a cheaper day

Generally, the cheapest day to fly is Thanksgiving Day itself (Nov. 23) and this is true for many holidays (Christmas Day, for example). Fly early enough in the day and you’ll be at your destination in plenty of time for dinner.

3. Fly unpopular times of day

Thecheapest times to fly are generally the times no one wants to fly, such as a dawn flight or at dinner-time or overnight flight. Compare ticket prices for various times; the savings could make an early flight easy to bear.

4. Consider connecting flights

Nonstop flights are more convenient for travelers but you generally pay for that convenience with higher ticket prices. Check out fares for both nonstops and connecting flights to see which is cheaper. You might save money.

More Holiday Planning Tips: Food, Security, Taxis

You’ve found the cheapest tickets and you’re ready to go; a few last minute tips:

Pack light: Use a carry-on bag; on most airlines, you’ll save the checked-baggage fee plus it will allow you to exit the airline quickly (and be first in line for a cab). Here’s a genius method for packing a carry-on.

Food: Bring food from home; there’s a lot of airline and airport food out there that’s not so great. Most airlines will give you water, coffee and soda for free. For the flight back, pack a leftover turkey sandwiches – mmm.

Security: Remember, liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces are not allowed through security checkpoints, and this is also true for homemade gift items like salsas or jams and jellies. The TSA has a list of banned items; follow it or risk having the item thrown away.

Airport pick-ups: If it’s your mom or grandma, sure, go get them – but most airports are going to be insane so let your other visitors take a bus or shuttle or taxi or Uber or Lyft.

Rick Seaney
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