When Should I Shop for Thanksgiving Airfare? Now.

The temperature may say summer but start thinking autumn so you’ll be in the mood to do what you have to do: plan Thanksgiving travel. And do it now. Nov. 24 may seem far away but if you want to save as much as possible, you must book your airfare immediately.

LISTEN: More holiday savings tips from Rick.

Thanksgiving Airfare FAQ

Not sure who’s hosting the big turkey dinner? Call and find out, then start comparing fares. But read this first.

1. Why should I shop for Thanksgiving airfare now?

Because it’s just going to get more expensive. The longer you wait, the more you’ll pay and this is what I mean:

  • If you shop Sept. 1 to 15: Add an extra $1 per day (on average) for each day you delay booking tickets.
  • If you shop Sept.15 – Oct. 31: Add an extra $2 per day.
  • If you shop Nov. 1 – Thanksgiving: Add an extra $4 per day.

Add it up, if you like, but start shopping now.

2. What about the last minute discounts?

There used to be last minute bargains, but not in the past several years (also, you could never be certain those bargains would exist on the route you needed). Airlines’ computerized reservations systems have gotten very good at knowing precisely how many of us want to fly and when, so planes are mostly full these days. In other words, there is no incentive to discount.

3. What are the best days to fly at Thanksgiving?

Some days are definitely cheaper than others.

  • Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24)
  • Tuesday before (Nov. 22)
  • Friday after (Nov. 25)
  • Tuesday after (Nov. 29)

4. What are the worst days to fly at Thanksgiving?

These are the most popular days to fly and the high demand means more expensive.

  • Wednesday before (Nov. 23)
  • Sunday after (Nov. 27)

If you can’t fly cheap days coming-and-going, try to fly at least one of the better days and you’ll still save something.

5. Is there any other way to save on Thanksgiving?

Most airlines allow a carry-on bag for free on domestic flights and you don’t need to pack much for such a short holiday. Plus there are three other good reasons to use a carry-on even if you are charged a fee:

  1. Carry-ons travel with you so they don’t get lost
  2. Must-haves like medications, contacts, glasses and more stay with you
  3. No wait at the baggage carousel so your holiday starts immediately

Now start your shopping. And Happy Thanksgiving.


Updated: September 8, 2016