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100-Day Countdown to Thanksgiving: Best Times to Book

Analysis of annual data brings new tidbits and tips for saving money on airfare this fall

by Business Traveler

August 19, 2019

Numbers provided by the global travel search engine shows that Thanksgiving travel this year will favor last-minute travelers with some strong deals to be found two to three weeks in advance of the holiday with savings as high as 20 percent.

The insights led to a deeper dive into itineraries, length of travel, and how Thanksgiving travelers go about their planning and booking. When looking at the data alone for 2018 domestic travel, the company found the majority of travelers booked their flights one to two weeks before Thanksgiving.  

According to the data travelers tend to fit into one of three personas:

•Almost 60 percent of Americans are midweek travelers, choosing to depart on Tuesday or Wednesday and return between Friday and Sunday

• Approximately 10 percent are week-long travelers, and travel weekend to weekend (Saturday/Sunday to the following Saturday/Sunday)

• Nearly 20 percent are same-day travelers, preferring to avoid the airport masses and depart on Thanksgiving Thursday and return between Friday and Sunday

o Note: Skyscanner data found the amount of people who fly on Thanksgiving day itself was double the size of the week-long Thanksgiving travelers

Regardless of which persona a traveler identifies with or where they plan to enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, booking at least two weeks in advance is recommended in order to find the best prices.

• If traveling with the majority of Americans on Tuesday or Wednesday, Skyscanner found the most consistent deals by booking between one month and two weeks in advance.

• The week-long travelers’ time window to find good deals starts from two months in advance up until two weeks out.

• And finally, for those that swear by the Thursday flight – it turns out there is truth to this rumor! On average, these travelers found better deals than the other travelers. Not only that, they also had a longer booking window to score these deals – deals started up to three months in advance, and could still be found up to two weeks in advance.

Tips and tricks for savings on fall holiday flights include:

•Set up price alerts for different departure dates, keeping in mind the majority of Americans will be flying on Tuesday/Wednesday

• Set up price alerts in advance, since deals do occur starting now

• Remember, this is for domestic data only – if looking for an international trip during Thanksgiving week, check out companies, such as TheseBoots.Travel, which offer ample discounts on business class seats

• For 2019, deals are already available, but the week of Halloween is a good week to buy based on 2018 data