Best Time to Buy Thanksgiving Airline Tickets

If you’re thinking that right now it’s just too early to shop for Thanksgiving flights, we hope to change your mind.

thanksgiving travel

There are a few very good reasons to start your Thanksgiving flight search soon and we’d like to share a few of them with you:

Flight prices will go up.
It’s often said that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. We’d add rising holiday airfare prices to the short list of certain things in this life. You can avoid paying too much for most holiday flights by buying on the early side. Some of the best airfares for Thanksgiving are generally found in the month of September, with costs increasing in October and again in November.

The longer you wait, the less choice you have.
If you’re fixated on getting the absolute lowest price, there’s a lot of risk in waiting to the 11th hour to get it and you’ll definitely me more limited in choice the closer you get to the holiday. Someone flying solo, who prefers to not check a bag and who doesn’t care if he or she has a center seat is the ideal candidate to gamble on the rock bottom fare. If you’re traveling with kids, want to sit together and would prefer an attractive (nonstop or very efficient) itinerary, your choices will be much more limited as we get closer and closer to Turkey Day. It’s a simple calculus, really. The airlines have a limited number of seats on each plane at the lowest prices. Once those tickets sell out, they’re gone. The most attractive itineraries and nonstop flights, also tend to sell out faster. Waiting may mean there will be slim pickin’s when you get around to pulling the trigger.

Some travel dates can save you money.
The days you choose to fly can have a huge impact on the price you’ll pay. The CheapAir.com Cheap Holiday Flights Report shows you which days are the most pricey. You can be sure that the Sunday after Thanksgiving will be an expensive day to fly, as well as the day before the holiday. If you can avoid the most popular travel days, you can save money – sometimes quite a bit. Buying early will assure you’ll get the best prices on those days. Here’s a calendar with some cheaper travel days this Thanksgiving:

thanksgiving flight calendar

If you have to fly on a popular day, buy early for the best prices
If it turns out that you simply cannot avoid flying on a popular travel day, you’ll want to buy early. As we said, the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the day before the holiday are very popular air travel days and the ticket prices always reflect that popularity. For example, right now the flight prices from Phoenix to New York for a “popular” itinerary (departing on Wednesday, November 22 and returning on Sunday, November 26) are a full $200 more than travel on any other days that week. We would expect those ticket prices to continue to rise, and not go down, as people buy their flights for the holidays. If you must travel on busy days, buy early to get the best fare and seat selections.

Don’t forget about Price Drop Payback
CheapAir.com has a cool little feature available to every customer who buys a holiday flight with us. Should your ticket price go down after you buy, we’ll reimburse you up to $100/ticket in the form of a credit for future travel. That’s it. No strings attached! Just a little bit of built-in insurance with every ticket you buy. Price Drop Payback helps you feel confident buying your airline ticket without feeling any “am I buying too soon” anxiety!

Manage your bargain-hunting expectations around the holidays
Stay realistic about your Thanksgiving airfare expectations. The prices will be higher around Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a fairly priced ticket. Searching early while utilizing an airfare alert can be a great tool for managing your options. Plan to buy as soon as you see a good deal – and remember that there are a lot of other people also searching for your itinerary. Some of them will surely buy when a good fare appears – be one of those people to win at holiday airfare shopping!

search cheap thanksgiving flights

2 Comments

    1. Hi Penny, Buy your flights as early as possible and plan to buy earlier for times of the year when the Bahamas are more popular (spring break months of March and April), the Christmas holidays, etc. Search for flights early and often. Flights into Nassau from Raleigh tend to be around $330-360. That’s a very fair price.

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