Have You Booked Your Thanksgiving Flights? Here are Some Tips

Where did summer go?  Fall will be here on Monday and Thanksgiving is a little over two months away.  Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for air travel so if you haven’t booked yet, here are some tips.

Thanksgiving 2019 Fare Trending

The data analysts at cheapair.com have been tracking average airfares for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Looking at the airfare trend chart below, it looks like there is still time to book your trip before the fares go up.

Image credit: cheapair.com

Tips For Booking Thanksgiving Air Travel

Be Flexible

You may have to go outside of your comfort zone to find a good deal.  People generally book with a favorite airline and/or book particular days of travel, preferred flight schedules or those highly desirable non-stop flights.  Be open to traveling outside of your comfort zone by accepting flights outside of your usual parameters.  One of the biggest factors is which days to travel.  I will be flying to Michigan for Thanksgiving and my flights are the Monday before and the Saturday after.  The chart below shows which days have better airfares:

Image credit: cheapair.com

Consider Alternate Airports

I used to live in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.  Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was the closest and largest airport to my home.  If LAX did not work out, I could look at Long Beach (LGB), Orange County (SNA), Burbank (BUR) and Ontario (ONT).   It may pay you to compare other airports for your trip origin and destination.

Set Your Expectations to Reasonable

This tip is probably the most important.  Be prepared to accept a fare, schedule, travel day or airline that is reasonable.  Airfares for Thanksgiving always run at least 20% higher than other times of the year.  The name of the game is to get to grandma’s house without breaking the bank.  Also, be patient during your travel.  Everybody else is in the same boat as you so be patient and understanding.

Mix and Match

If you can save money by flying out on carrier “A” and returning on carrier “B” then use that option.  You may have to accept a non-stop flight one way and multiple stops going the other way.

See it – Buy it!

It is very important that if you find a good deal – book it right away.  There are thousands of other people looking for “that deal” so book it before it’s gone.  My experience with American  Airlines is that when I find the fares that I want, they are usually gone before I can click on “Pay Now”.  Waiting to book could cost you more or affect your travel schedule or choice of airports.

Allow Extra Time to Get to the Airport

You will have plenty of company on the road to the airport especially the days closest to Thanksgiving.  Allow extra time to get to the airport and find a parking spot.  You may want to consider taking Uber, Lyft or a shared-ride like Super Shuttle.  If you are checking bags, add extra time for that along with passing through security.

An Online Travel Agency (OTA) That Has Your Back if the Fare Goes Down

I usually book my flights directly with the airline.  I did find an OTA that will give you some amount of price protection.  Booking through cheapair.com has the “Price Drop Payback“.  If you book your flights through cheapair.com, they will reimburse you up to $100.00 if your airfare drops.

The Final Approach

Now that you have your tickets in hand, be patient, courteous and understanding.  You will have thousands of people to contend with.  When you arrive at your destination, be prepared for adverse weather especially if you are driving to grandma’s house.  Be thankful for being with family and friends, enjoy the pumpkin pie and give grandma a big hug.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Have You Booked Your Thanksgiving Flights? Here are Some Tips.