You may still be slathering calamine lotion on your sunburn but believe it or not, summer’s almost over. Which means, time to think about Thanksgiving! Even if you don’t have plans to travel this Turkey Day (Nov. 22), grandma may have other ideas so read this and save some money on holiday travel.
Best day to fly
Thanksgiving Day is the cheapest day to fly during this period, same as always. Sure, no one wants to fly on the holiday itself but that’s why prices are less crazy. Tip: Fly out as early as you can on Thanksgiving Day and you won’t miss a minute of the feast or the football game. And always, always compare airfare prices on several airline and booking sites.
Worst days to fly
• Departure: Wednesday (Nov. 21) is usually the worst day to begin a Thanksgiving trip but this year, flying on Tuesday (Nov. 20) is equally bad.
• Return: Sunday (Nov. 25) is the worst day to head back home. Saturday (Nov. 24) and Monday (Nov. 26) are both expensive but not quite as bad as Sunday.
How bad are these worst days? Fares for pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday/Wednesday flights are currently running from 50 to 130 percent more than Tuesday/Wednesday flights the week before the holiday.
Good days to fly
There are no true “good” days to fly at Thanksgiving; it’s all expensive, but some days are cheaper than others (it’s all about getting the best of the bad deals). Thanksgiving Day has already been mentioned as kind of a deal but you can also save by flying the Monday before Thanksgiving (or earlier) and the Tuesday after. The further away from expensive days you get, the better.
When to buy
If you will be flying Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday, buy tickets now. These fares usually see the steepest price hikes and, although they won’t exactly be cheap now, at least you’ll lock in the price before it starts to rise.
When prices get ugly
Usually in September; fares begin to rise on a daily basis. It’s not much at first; maybe a buck or two per day but it doesn’t take long before that starts to add up. By October, we’ve seen fares rise as much as $5 per day.
I know people that have already purchased their Thanksgiving airfare and are glad they did. You don’t have to do this, but now is a good time to start making plans. The sooner you know you’ll be traveling, the better.
FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney is an airline industry insider and top media air travel resource. Follow Rick (@rickseaney) and never overpay for airfare again.
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