It’s Time to Book Your Flights Home for Thanksgiving

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Need a flight home for Turkey Day? Consider this a public announcement: it’s time to look for fares – and book sooner rather than later.

Thanksgiving is just under two months away, and travel numbers are expected to set another pandemic record. That means The longer you wait to book a flight home for the holidays, the more likely it is that prices will go up rather than down.

Look, flight prices are unpredictable – they change all the time, minute by minute. Just as there is no best day to book flights, there is no hard and fast rule as to how far in advance you should book, no matter when or where you are traveling. But Google Flights has some solid data based on five years of flight costs to support us here.

This data shows that the Thanksgiving lowest fares are typically found 36 to 74 days before departure, with prices generally bottoming out about 52 days before. You guessed it: we’re in the middle of that sweet spot as we speak. And if the data is correct, prices could start to spike again by mid-October…if not sooner.

airplanes

At the very least, we urge you to set up a Google Flights price alert for your Thanksgiving travel plans — and do it now — so you’ll be notified when prices go up or down. That could give you a critical clue as to when it’s time to book flights.

Saving tip: Make sure you book at least one Standard Economy ticket – not a stingy Basic Economy fare. This way when prices do after the purchase, you can rebook your flights and pocket the difference as an airline voucher.

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But maybe there are even better ways to save on your flights home for Thanksgiving…

Tips for saving on Thanksgiving flights

If you haven’t booked a flight for late November yet, you need to read this short list of tips. It could save you hundreds of flights.

Postpone your travel dates (a bit)

We have a rule here at Thrifty Traveler to save on airfare. It’s called The Flight First Rule.

And that’s exactly what it sounds like: instead of setting your travel dates in advance, Start searching for flights and let the price guide you to the cheapest dates. This principle is even more effective on busy holidays like Thanksgiving.

We know you want to fly there on Wednesday and return on Sunday… but so does everyone else – and the airlines know it. They’re some of the busiest travel days of the year, so these Wednesday through Sunday itineraries are almost always the priciest fares you’ll find during Thanksgiving week.

For example, travelers traveling from New York City to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) on Wednesday 23rd November and return on Sunday 27th November are currently seeing round trip fares of $468 – or substantially more.

nyc to msp thanksgiving fares

But what if you allow yourself a little flexibility? Many Americans today have more freedom to work remotely. So if you’re leaving on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and returning on Saturday instead, You can get more than $100 off these rates.

nyc to msp thanks

can you go further The same route departing on Monday and returning on Black Friday brings fares down to $238 round trip – about half the cost of the first ride Wednesday through Sunday!

nyc to msp thanksgiving fares

This might not work for everyone’s work and personal schedule, but it shows the power of flexibility when skimming Thanksgiving. And while this is just one example, the same pattern plays out whether you’re flying from New York to Chicago, all the way across the country to return to family in Turkey, or flying in and out of small towns across the country.

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Use Google Flights

Forget Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner and Hopper. No matter when or where you travel, Google Flights is the best search platform out there. But for expensive vacation trips, the powerful features that help you find the cheapest fare make Google Flights invaluable.

  • The easy-to-navigate interface includes a calendar feature that shows dates with the cheapest plans in green.
  • Google Flights even gives you a pop-up notification when moving your dates saves you money.

Google Flights change date notification

  • You can quickly filter by airline, flight times, non-stop or one-stop flights, and more to show only the flights you want
  • Google Flights Price Alerts allows you to track prices on your route and book when prices drop.
  • Google lets you search to and from up to seven airports at once, casting a wide net to find the best deals
  • Flying in or out of cities with multiple airports like New York, Washington, DC or Chicago? Just enter the city name and Google Flights will display the results from all of them.

Read our complete guide on everything you need to know about using Google Flights!

Try Google Flights Explore for a Thanksgiving getaway

Aren’t you trying to get home for Thanksgiving? Have you turned your gaze abroad instead? You’re lucky.

While flying within the US tends to get expensive during Thanksgiving week, it’s one of our favorite weeks for international travel, thanks to a steady stream of cheaper fares as other nations skip Turkey. We’ve sent a ton of great offers for a Thanksgiving trip to our Thrifty Traveler Premium Members in recent weeks have included trips to Lisbon for just $359, as far as Singapore (SIN) for under $700, and even round-trip flights to Europe in Delta Premium Select for just $860.

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Premium Select flight offer

But if you’re starting from scratch and just want a late November getaway to wherever your money’s worth, we’ve got the tool for you. Yes, it goes back to Google Flights… sort of.

It is Discover flights on Googlea little-known tool in the web giant’s repertoire that can help you find the cheapest travel destinations if you don’t care about where you’re going.

Explore Google flights

Here are some tips for using Google Flights Explore:

  • Enter your departure location and a destination as specific (or as general) as you want to check out. California, USA, Europe, South America – they all work.
  • Select the dates you want to travel or select flexible dates policy. Play around with travel dates as prices can fluctuate wildly – and keep them wide if you can.
  • Move the map to see new destinations and prices.
  • When you find a destination you want to explore further, click the city name, then click View Flights. This will populate the search information with flight options and additional details.
  • If you see a green-colored fare anywhere on Google Flights, you know that this is the lowest fare for the dates or duration you want.

Explore Google Flights map

Read our full guide on using Google Flights Explore!

bottom line

Thanksgiving may still be almost two months away, but the time to book those flights is now — right now.

Be ahead of the curve and book your flights before prices go up. Trust us, these rates are unlikely to go down the longer you wait.