Finding Last-Minute Deals for Thanksgiving: It’s All About the Return Date

Still don’t have your Thanksgiving airline tickets yet? Shop now but as you shop, pay special attention to your itinerary’s return date. That is the key to saving money.

LISTEN: Airfare expert Rick Seaney’s latest ways to save.

Thanksgiving: Best and Worst Dates to Fly

There is no such thing as a good deal at Thanksgiving (Nov. 27). Your only hope lies in finding the best of the bad deals.

Best deals: Return on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), the Saturday after (Nov. 29) or the Monday after (Dec. 1).

Worst deals: Most expensive fares are typically found in the traditional itinerary – departing the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26) and returning on the Sunday after (Nov. 30). Consider this in general to be a no-fly zone.

See what I mean in these examples from late October data for Orlando-New York flights:

  • Bad: $604 – Wednesday to Sunday (Nov. 26, 30)
  • Bad: $556 – Thursday to Sunday (Nov. 27, 30)
  • Good: $263 – Sunday to Friday (Nov. 23, 28)
  • Good: $265 – Monday to Friday (Nov. 24, 28)
  • Compromise: $417 – Thursday* to Monday (Nov. 27, Dec. 1)
  • Compromise: $452 – Tuesday to Saturday (Nov. 25, 29)
  • Compromise: $493 – Wednesday to Saturday (Nov. 26, 20)

*Fly early and you’ll be there in time for the turkey.

Again, these prices are based on October data so what you find can vary. You may find a better deal. You may find a worse one. You will find prices vary greatly depending on departure/destination cities and other factors.

Don’t Forget to Compare Prices

If you only go to one airline site, you may not get the best deal because no single airline always has the best price.

Plus, as we always are at pains to point out, airfare prices can and do change with no warning, so it is crucial to compare fares to be sure you get the best deal possible.


Updated: November 13, 2014