Why You Should Buy Thanksgiving Tickets Now

It’s October! There’s a nip in the air, a gourd on every doorstep, a scarf round every throat. And you know what that means: it’s time to go broke paying for holiday travel. Except maybe not this year. Maybe you can get it together to buy tickets in advance and not have to shell out an extra $300 for the privilege of visiting your Aunt Ellen in Milwaukee and listening to your relatives try to explain Twitter to each other for the fourteen-thousandth time.

We tend think that maybe tickets will get really affordable at the last minute because airlines will get desperate, like bar patrons still lingering on their stools at Last Call. This is a myth. MYTH. According to CheapAir.com:

For most domestic trips, we found a similar pattern. The worst time to book your trip was the last minute. No big shocker there. The day before was the single worst day, two days before was the second worst, etc. etc. all the way up to 13 days in advance. Our data completely debunks the myth that if you wait until the last minute, there will be big price reductions to take advantage of, as airlines dump empty seats. That simply doesn’t happen, and buying a flight with less than two weeks advance purchase is the last strategy we would recommend.

When is the optimal time, then? So glad you asked:

between about one month out and three and a half months out (29 days to 104 days) fares were at their lowest point. We call this period the “prime booking window” where the average fare on each day was within $10 of the lowest fare possible. This is the period where 2013 domestic flights were generally the least expensive and this was usually the best time to buy.

In other words, now! Now! What are you still doing here? Open up Skyscanner, or Hipmunk, or Orbitz/Travelocity/Priceline, plus JetBlue.com and Southwest.com, and spend the morning figuring out how to avoid American Airlines and still get where you need to go efficiently, affordably, and, if at all possible, pleasantly. You could also avoid the usual grind altogether and suggest a different kind of holiday getaway.

If you’ve missed the window and all the flights to your preferred destinations are already ridiculously expensive, you could decide, like this guy, to take a principled stand and never fly again. Sorry, family, you can say, adjusting your halo. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m being a good child to Mother Earth.

(Have you already bought your tickets? Did you buy them on or before Labor Day, like the really organized people do?)

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