When Should You Buy Flights for Thanksgiving?
Some sites are saying we should have booked a couple of weeks ago for the best prices, others are saying at this point it’s better to wait a few more weeks til the beginning of November. Ultimately the best time to get cheaper flights home for the holidays will depend on your destination but the short answer is book soon!
The most important thing is to assess how risk averse you are and how flexible your plans. If you can’t afford to take an extra day off to leave early or come back a day or two later, it might be better to book now than hoping to save $20-$50 bucks later.
What the Experts are Saying
- Hopper’s data indicates 80 days out is the best time to book for Christmas, which was a few weeks ago so definitely start shopping for flights soon if you want to minimize high holiday fares.
- Orbitz says the bestdates to book flights for the holidays was early October. October 6 for Thanksgiving, October 9 for Christmas, and October 10 for New Years. That said, looking at their handy dandy graphic, you can still book airfare at the “average price” up until a few weeks before.
- Hipmunk via CNTraveler says the best prices were in August this year.
- Not all hope is lost though! Kayak suggests you book at least two weeks in advance and Skyscanner says prices will be slightly less in early November than mid to late October.
How to Find the Cheapest Flights
- My go-to site for finding the cheapest flights is Google Flights. It suggests cheaper days and airports and allows you to narrow the search by specific airline or alliance. It also lets you see a forecast of what the avg fares are and sign up to be notified if the price drops.
- I’m also trying out Hopper which has some cool features as well as limitations. It tells you how the fares are looking and whether you should book now or wait. It also sends an update when the fares drop. On the downside it’s only via a mobile app and doesn’t appear (based on my limited usage) to let you sort by airline or time.
- If you find a good deal, book it right away. Most airlines offer a free 24 hour cancellation period (if it’s more than 7 days before travel) or the opportunity to hold the fare for free for 24 hours. Use this option to jump on a good deal before it’s gone while still being able to look around just in case another one is out there.
- Fare Compare offers helpful tips on how to keep costs down like flying hungry and tired (the early and late flights that are less popular) and shopping for one passenger at a time in case only one ticket remains at a lower price point.
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