Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest times of the year to fly, and they can be the priciest too. If you haven't bought an airline ticket yet, here are some dates when you can expect to find the best holiday travel fares.
Travelzoo reports that the cheapest days to fly at Thanksgiving will be early the week before — Nov. 18, 19 and 20 — as well as Nov. 23 (the Monday before) and Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26).
By "cheapest," the online travel booking site doesn't mean you're going to find a great bargain; it means the price will be lower than other dates around the holiday.
For example, one of the busiest flying days of the year is the Wednesday before turkey day, so tickets on Nov. 25 are likely to be more expensive than other days. The least busy day, according to data from Orbitz, is Nov. 30.
I tested some of the best holiday travel dates by comparing Thanksgiving airfares from Los Angeles to New York City on American Airlines.
When I checked, the cheapest seat on Nov. 25 (the dreaded Wednesday before the holiday) cost $450 one way — a price that drops to $417 if you fly on Thanksgiving.
Southwest Airlines shows its cheapest prices (called "wanna getaway fares") from L.A. to La Guardia Airport (LGA) in New York on Nov. 25 are sold out.
Southwest's cheapest prices that day cost $663 to $691 one way. But if you fly the same route on Thanksgiving, you can snag a seat for $217 on the outbound journey and return for $99 on Dec. 1.
For Christmas travel, Travelzoo points to Dec. 21 and Christmas Day (which falls on a Friday this year) as the days you'll likely find lower holiday airfares. The same holds for New Year's Eve — flying on Jan. 1 and returning between Jan. 5 and Jan. 8 will be your best bet for keeping prices down.
Travelzoo also offers holiday travel tips, like choosing connecting flights in Southern cities where there may be fewer bad-weather delays.
Go to Travelzoo's blog to find Navigate Holiday Travel With These 13 Tips and the cheapest holiday travel days chart.