If you’re planning on flying during the Thanksgiving holiday, you should book your airfare before Halloween. That’s because if you delay your travel booking until November, you may end up paying a few hundred dollars extra. What’s more, the longer you wait, it’s likely the higher your airfare will be. In fact, if you wait until the last minute to book airline tickets, you might end up paying twice as much.
Are Tickets For Thanksgiving Travel Higher Than Last Year?
Oh, most definitely. Due to COVID-19, the number of air travelers from last Thanksgiving was down as much as 50 percent. Yet with more people getting vaccinated and travel in general on the upswing, air fares are already up 23 percent. On the other hand, prices are still down about 11 percent before the pandemic began. At this time, the price of airfare doesn’t seem unreasonable. Nevertheless, be forewarned that Christmastime airfare is already up 71 percent from last year.
When Exactly Should I Buy Airfare For Thanksgiving Travel?
To be sure, nothing is exact when it comes to purchasing airfare. Some say you should purchase your airline tickets at least two months in advance. Others say you should book your trip on a particular day and time. Yet according to CheapOAir, it’s better to purchase tickets in September and November instead of August and October. On the other hand, CheapOAir’s findings does reveal that the longer you wait, the higher the prices will be. So, the advice here is to purchase tickets before Halloween.
Related: How To Relax On A Crowded Airplane
What Travel Day(s) Is the Most Expensive For Airfare?
By far, the most expensive travel days are the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On the flight home, Sunday followed by Monday are the priciest. However, Priceline has suggested that Monday, November 15 will be the highest. Yet in a similar price check from Skyscanner, airfare is significantly higher for flights on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Conversely, a return flight on the Sunday after is higher than the day after Thanksgiving or Saturday. Of course, the day before Thanksgiving has consistently been one of the busiest travel days of the year.
How Can I Get The Best Rates?
By all means, you should do additional research beyond this story. For starters, you absolutely need to start looking now. Furthermore, try doing price comparisons between booking sites. Of course, if you already have a preferred booking site, that’s solves one dilemma. Yet again, it doesn’t hurt to review other travel sites to see if you could get a better deal. Regardless, the price differential between competing sites should be minimal.
What Travel Booking Site(s) Should I Use?
If you don’t already have a preferred booking site, you have several options. For instance, Kayak and TripAdvisor are among the best-known flight comparison sites. Additional solid recommendations are Expedia, Trivago and Booking.com. Yet, don’t overlook Google Flights, Skyscanner and Skiplagged. Some others you may have never heard of are good too, like Hopper, Momondo and Rome2Rio.
Related: Thanksgiving Airport Travel Tips
Is There Anything Else I Should Know Before I Start Looking For Airline Tickets?
The absolute times to purchase airline tickets for Thanksgiving travel have already passed. Either way, you should start looking into your flight options as soon as possible. Although some sources say to wait until November to book flights, Hopper suggests prices could almost double after Halloween. Why take a chance on that? Lastly, if possible, try looking into flying into a different airport to save money.
Any Last Thoughts?
Yes. Just recently, Southwest Airlines made headlines when it cancelled hundreds of flights over a seven day period. The Dallas-based airline attributed the cancellations to weather, air traffic control issues and staffing shortages. Because staffing shortages are industry-wide, you should have a backup plan in case your flight is delayed or cancelled. Know what your rights are in case of a cancellation and if practical, purchase travel insurance. Lastly, please be aware that there also may be a shortage of vaccinated TSA workers.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.