Flying for Thanksgiving? Here’s what you should know

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) — With many Americans making their Thanksgiving travel plans, AAA shares some tips to help them overcome their flight booking challenges.

While most people start booking their flights early for Turkey Day, waiting until it gets closer could yield cheaper airfares with potential average savings of up to $75 per ticket. However, there are risks and tradeoffs with this approach.

“As the holiday draws closer, choice becomes more limited and as we saw this summer, staff shortages can quickly lead to canceled flights. Preferred times and non-stop flights are the first to sell out, and if there are only a few seats left on your desired itinerary, you may pay more for the privilege by waiting,” said Matthew Conde, public affairs director of AAA Idaho . “But if your travel plans are flexible, you might be able to look around for a better deal.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners, known as OPEC+, agreed to cut crude oil production by two million barrels a day to shore up falling crude prices. The cuts, which are almost double what industry experts speculated before the announcement, are likely to affect the cost of future car trips and air fares.

“Airlines have kerosene deals in place so there may not be an immediate impact on airline tickets. But ultimately, as those contracts renew, higher costs will make their way to the consumer,” Conde said. “Some families may need to set pain thresholds in their budget to determine when and how much they travel.”

While those who book less than a month before the holiday can save on airfare, the exception, according to AAA, is Thanksgiving week itself, when the average ticket price is expected to rise again.

Looking at flight days, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving eclipsed Wednesday as the busiest time at the airport, but Sunday is expected to be the busiest travel day this year. To save the most money and avoid the travel rush, flying on Thanksgiving might be the best option.

“If possible, always book the first flight of the day and allow enough time for any connecting flights. You’re less likely to get bogged down with cancellations and weather delays that can pile up throughout the day, and when those things happen you have more time to come up with plan B,” Conde said. “Make sure you have enough time to get through security and to the gate as staff shortages could really slow down the process over the holidays.”

Based on booking data from AAA National, this year’s top domestic Thanksgiving destinations are:

  1. Orlando,FL
  2. New York, NY
  3. Anaheim, CA
  4. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  5. Atlanta, GA
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  8. Las Vegas, Nevada
  9. Charlotte, NC
  10. Maui, HI

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