Will you be flying this Thanksgiving weekend? Every day you wait to buy tickets is costing you $5 per ticket. If you've got a family of four, you'll lose $20 every day—or a whopping $140 every week you wait. So chop chop!
That wake-up call comes from the airfare comparison shopping site FareCompare, which analyzed data for the top 100 markets for travel on popular routes to find the best time to buy Thanksgiving tickets and the best days to fly.
Based on FareCompare's findings, people who bought tickets for Thanksgiving trips in September paid up to 50 percent less than those who waited to book in November. Buying in October will save you up to 20 percent compared to a last-minute purchase in November.
According to Rick Seaney, Farecompare’s CEO, “Travelers who purchased Thanksgiving tickets around the beginning of the Fall Deal Zone saved the most, however, buying now is the next best thing.”
Cheapest Time to Buy Thanksgiving Airfares
Here are some sample routes and prices from FareCompare:
|September $822||September $890|
|October $1061||October $945|
|November $1130||November $1220|
|September $610||September $670|
|October $575||October $890|
|November $1032||November $1106|
Cheapest Days to Fly for Thanksgiving
Besides purchasing early, travelers can save money by choosing cheaper days to fly. According to FareCompare's analysis, this year the cheapest and most expensive days are:
Cheapest Departure Day: Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)
Alternatives: Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving
Most Expensive: Wednesday (Thanksgiving Eve)
Cheapest Returning Day: Thursday (Thanksgiving Day)
Alternatives: Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday after Thanksgiving
Most Expensive: Sunday after Thanksgiving
Above all else, try to avoid the bookends of the holiday weekend—the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. These two days are virtually guaranteed to be more expensive than other days during the holiday weekend.
Plan Your Thanksgiving Getaway
One thing you can count on if you're flying this Thanksgiving is that you’ll have many traveling companions. The good news is that there’s an awful lot you can do to minimize the downsides of traveling during the holiday weekend.
- Book an early flight time. Airport delays have a knock-on effect, piling up as the day wears on and creating afternoon log jams. Your best defense against getting stuck in airport quagmire is to choose early-morning and, preferably, non-stop flights. If you have a layover, give yourself more wiggle room than usual between connections.
- Spring for travel insurance. You may not buy travel insurance for every trip. But during busy travel periods, there’s a greater risk of delays, cancellations, and other ways for a trip to go wrong. Travel insurance is relatively cheap and easy to buy online, and it offers protection of your travel investment.
- Know your flyer's rights. Flights are more likely to be cancelled or delayed during the busy holiday season. If it happens on your vacation, does the airline owe you a meal voucher, a night at a hotel, or some other compensation? Here’s how to find out what you’re entitled to and how to get it.
- Zig when everyone else zags. For every destination that’s in high season, there’s another place in low season. A tried-and-true money-saving trick is to simply target off-season destinations. Looking for a more affordable Thanksgiving getaway? Consider a beach getaway in the Caribbean, where it’s shoulder season. Or opt for an earlybird ski trip at any of the Western ski mountains that open by Turkey day.
Play dead. In the travel industry, a period immediately following a peak holiday period—such as right after Thanksgiving—is known as a “dead week.” If your kids are still in pre-school and your dates are flexible, timing your holiday getaway for a dead week can result in really big savings. Not only are flights cheaper, but many resorts drop prices just after Thanksgiving weekend.