Thanksgiving Procrastination Guide 2019

Published by Rick Seaney on October 8, 2019

Turkey in field

When it comes to Thanksgiving, time is money and the longer you delay, the more you’ll pay for airfare. Waiting to buy a ticket is going to cost you as flight prices generally rise several dollars each day, every day from mid-October and into November progresses. This Thanksgiving Procrastination Guide shows you how to find cheap Thanksgiving flights – or more accurately, the cheapest deals available.

LISTEN: FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney has tons of great holiday tips in this 2018 podcast.

What You’ll Pay If You Delay

Every day you procrastinate adds an additional charge for each and every day you delay, and further from your goal of relatively cheap Thanksgiving flights. An analysis of FareCompare Turkey Day travel data from the past few years shows how bad it may get.

  • 2016: Fares rose an average of $6 per day.
  • 2017: Fares rose an average of $4 per day.
  • 2018: Fares rose an average of $3-$4 a day then jumped $5-$10 per day.

And here’s what’s happening for 2019:

Fares will rise on average $2 per day until Oct. 16, then increase $3 a day until Nov. 1, with a final hike of $5 a day through Thanksgiving. Note: Prices for nonstop flights will rise at a much higher rate.

Tip: Shop now! It will only get worse.

How to Find Deals

This time of year, some of us will look for cheap Thanksgiving flights to Grandma’s house, while others just want to go someplace fun. These tools help both kinds of travelers.

  • Always compare faresThis may sound very basic but we include it because it works. Comparing fares on a site like FareCompare is the only way to get the best deal. No airline has the cheapest flights every time, not even your favorite discount carrier. TIP: The cheapest day to fly at is often the holiday itself; this year, Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, Nov. 28.
  • Getaway Map: If you’re flexible on where-to-go and when-to-fly, this is the map for you. Just indicate which dates or months or season you want to fly and watch as deals to destinations around the world fill your screen. 
  • Consider Europe: Europe has been especially cheap this fall. We’ve seen excellent deals to London, Paris, Madrid and even Rome from a variety of U.S. cities. TIP: Use the Getaway Map to see what’s cheap from your hometown. In some cases, Europe will be cheaper than some domestic routes.

Need some inspiration for a late fall getaway? See 2019’s Memorable Holiday Destinations

More Ways to Cut Costs

These tips can save money during holidays, or anytime.

  • Fly to/from hubs: Bigger airports often have cheaper fares than small or mid-size cities.
  • Accept some inconvenienceWe all prefer non-stop flights but connections and very early or very late departure times can also be cheaper.
  • Use a carry-on bag: Most airlines don’t charge a bag fee for carry-ons. Plus, bags that travel by your side – like a carry-on – is the bag that doesn’t get lost.

Now, no more procrastinating. Buy your tickets now. And, wherever you fly, we hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Top 10 Airport Deals

If you are really flexible or are happy to visit family outside the big Thanksgiving rush, check out these super-cheap dates.

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