When to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving

If air travel is part of your Thanksgiving plan this year but you’ve procrastinated buying your ticket, there’s still hope! We’re not going to sugarcoat it though – if you want to get a decent fare, the time to buy is now.

Family Thanksgiving travel

The CheapAir Holiday Cheap Flights Report is clear: prices are climbing and they’re not going to stop. If you had bought your ticket last week, you would have paid (on average) about $30 less than you will pay this week. And waiting until November will cost you at least another $14 dollars (but likely more). Waiting for a Thanksgiving sale is just wishful thinking. Not only will fares continue to rise, but the most desirable flights are also filling up, which means the itineraries remaining the closer we get to Thanksgiving are less desirable (more connections, longer layovers, and inconvenient flight times become the norm). Trust us. If you wait, it’s slim pickings out there.

Now for the good news. There are a few tips we can share to get you the best fares still available. To begin, there are better days than others to fly if you want a cheap flight.

Cheapest dates to fly for Thanksgiving 2015

Cheapest departure days: Monday, November 23; Tuesday, November 24; and Thanksgiving Day, November 26

Cheapest return days: Friday, November 27; and Wednesday, December 2

CheapAir Thanksgiving calendar

It might not sound like a festive way to spend a holiday, but if you’re willing to fly on Thanksgiving day it can be a great day to both snag a bargain ticket and have an easy travel day with mostly empty airports. Recent searches have turned up round-trip airfares from LAX to Denver for just $333 with Spirit Airlines, if you can fly on Thanksgiving Day. That same itinerary goes for $484 if you choose to fly out on Wednesday the 25th and return on Sunday the 29th. That’s $151 dollars more. We say just aim to depart on the first flight of the day, and you’ll be there before the turkey’s been carved.

For more insight into Thanksgiving and Christmas flight trends, please visit the 2015 Holiday Cheap Flights Report from CheapAir. You’ll be glad you did!


  1. I am traveling to JFK & from LAX on 12/18/2015 /Return 1/3/2015. .Due to work & school schedules have to take late afternoon flight on 12/18/2015. Myself & three sons are visiting a loved one in NYC for a long awaited visit & would appreciate any help in this matter. Thank You…….. Claudia

    1. Hi Claudia, My best advice is to book very soon. The flights for Christmas will fill up quickly and you’re planning to travel on some of the busiest and (sometimes) most expensive days. If you wait, those flights are only going to increase in cost. Prices right now out of JFK are hovering around $717 for the flights departing later in the day, but they will continue to go up. Also, since you’re traveling with a group, you want to book so everyone can sit together. If you can leave from Newark or the school schedule changes, there are other flight options in the $500-600 range. Hope this helps!

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