The summer travel season may have just wrapped up, but it’s already time to ink in plans for Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel—at least if you want to find the best deals.
Fortunately for travelers, airfares in general are becoming more affordable compared to the exorbitant prices over the summer. “With the many price drops we’ve seen in recent months, airlines seem to believe demand is softening for fall/winter travel,” says Katy Nastro, a travel expert at Going, which tracks flight deals and sends them to subscribers.
But that doesn’t mean that deals for the holidays will last forever. “Domestically, we saw pretty low fares for Thanksgiving even as recently as a few weeks ago, like Washington DC to Orlando for only $98, but now that we are getting closer to November, the likelihood of finding a rock-bottom fare is gradually drying up.”
Here’s how you can still find an affordable flight for Thanksgiving, plus a look ahead at when to book for the December holidays, too.
When is the best time to book flights for Thanksgiving 2023?
In short: as soon as possible. Usually, the ideal booking window for domestic flights in a peak season like over a holiday is between three and seven months ahead of time, according to Nastro. “If you are looking to fly domestically [for Thanksgiving], you should be booking immediately,” Nastro says. “You may be left with pricier flights the longer you wait.”
Fortunately for travelers, September currently seems to be a sweet spot for unearthing airline deals. “Domestic airfares are also trending down right now,” says Laura Lindsay, travel trends expert at Skyscanner. “So, for anyone staying in the US to celebrate Thanksgiving and in search of the best travel deal, strike now before the airfares climb back up.”
If you have flexible plans, consider international travel
Over the summer, international flights—especially to popular destinations in Europe—were prohibitively expensive for many travelers. But in November, bargains abound.
“When it comes to great deals for Thanksgiving, we are still seeing plenty of deals for international travel, especially across Europe, from cities across the US,” Nastro says. Some recent roundtrip deals include Grand Rapids, Michigan to Milan for $515; Sacramento to Munich for $581; and Miami to London for $353;
“Thanksgiving is actually one of the best times of the year to find international deals,” Nastro says. “Everyone is looking to fly domestically to visit family and friends, but outside of the US, it’s not a holiday week, and prices don’t spike nearly as early.”
As such, travelers who are interested in spending the holiday abroad have more time to find an affordable fare. Flight search tools can help find the most affordable routes. Google Flights’ Explore feature allows travelers to set their travel dates and departure airport and browse the map for the cheapest destinations. Skyscanner’s Savings Generator feature uses airfare data to show the cheapest time to book specific routes.
When is the best time to book flights for the December holidays?
For the cheapest fares on flights for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s, Nastro says it’s best to book in the summer months. But if you didn’t planned that far ahead, you can still find bargains for several more weeks.