How To Find Cheap Flights In Time For Thanksgiving CNN

Even though many of us have held onto summer in our minds, fall – and the holiday season – is upon us.

Thanksgiving flights are usually some of the most expensive you’ll see year round. Of course, 2020 was an exception to this rule, many stayed behind due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now travel is rebounding, millions of people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, and families and friends are ready to come together to celebrate one of our most treasured vacations.

All signs point to a busy Thanksgiving travel season, which means flights will be full and expensive.

If you’ve put off purchasing your Thanksgiving flights, now is the time to do it. But before you make a decision, make sure you know the best tips and tricks so you don’t have to pay a small fortune to fly over the Thanksgiving vacation.

Related: 5 reasons why you should book your vacation trip now.

We’ve put together a list of the top five methods for finding cheap Thanksgiving flights – here’s what you need to know.

Before the pandemic, the busiest travel day of each year was typically the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when apparently everyone would embark on a “great migration,” crisscrossing the country to join family and friends. Then, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, airports would once again be jam-packed with people scrambling to get home to return to work or school.

Now, with the greater flexibility of working arrangements offered by the pandemic, many travelers have the flexibility to travel on “non-traditional” Thanksgiving travel days, which often means you can find cheaper flights.

Take, for example, the flights from Detroit to Miami. Non-stop economy flights from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, November 24, through the Sunday after the holidays, November 28, will be costs you $ 778 round trip with the full-service airline Delta.

Google Flights

Fly from Detroit to Miami for $ 778 round trip

However, if you’re able to work remotely – or have more time to take off – and could travel from Tuesday, November 23 through the following Tuesday, November 30, you could head to the sun for just $ 249 round trip in Delta’s main economy cabin.

Google Flights

Fly from Detroit to Miami for $ 249 round trip

Of course, not everyone will have the flexibility to travel on the cheapest days. Many business travelers can only be away from the office during the “traditional” Thanksgiving long weekend. But, if you’re someone who is able to work remotely, it’s definitely worth considering extending – or shortening – your trip to potentially save several hundred dollars on flights.

Many large metropolitan areas have multiple airports to choose from. New York has airports at LaGuardia (LGA), Kennedy (JFK) and Newark (EWR); Chicago to O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW); Houston has George Bush-Intercontinental (IAH) and Hobby (HOU); And the list continues.

Related: How to access some of the best airport lounges in the world.

When looking for flights, check if your destination has a secondary airport that serves the area. Many times it can be cheaper to fly to these smaller airports instead of the main airport serving a given area.

For example, if you wanted to travel from Pittsburgh to the Boston area on Thanksgiving travel days, you could do it for $ 607 round trip if you were to fly to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) with Delta Air Lines.

Google Flights

Pittsburgh to Boston for $ 607 round trip

Or you can fly to nearby Providence (PVD) for a relatively reasonable $ 387 round trip on the same dates with new airline Breeze.

Google Flights

Pittsburgh to Providence for $ 387 round trip

If you’re not set on a particular destination but just know you want to get away from it all for the holidays, you should use Explore function of Google Flights. The free service allows you to see which destination has the cheapest airline ticket.

Google Flights

Google Flights Explore is a great tool for flexible travelers

The Explore function allows you to search with specific dates or with flexible dates in a given month. You can choose your city of origin and let Google do the work for you. From there, you can simply click on the destination that interests you and fits your budget and proceed to book your flights.

Google Flights also allows you to set fare alerts and will send you an email if and when the cost of a given ticket goes up or down. This is especially useful if you set alerts months in advance of when you intend to travel so that you can jump on a good deal if it arises.

Many budget airlines have made strides in recent years to improve both their operations and the customer experience. However, while they can offer cheap fares, they are known to charge hefty fees for any extras you want, like checked baggage, seat selection, carry-on baggage, and in some cases even. the water.

And while “legacy” carriers like American, Delta, and United have mimicked the low-cost experience with economy base fares, you can avoid them simply by purchasing a “regular” economy ticket. But if you choose to travel with a low cost carrier, you run a greater risk of being delayed or even stranded if weather conditions or other factors hamper your flights.

Getty Images

The lowest fare isn’t always the best choice

Traditional carriers typically have larger fleets and higher flight frequencies, which means you have a better chance of being relocated to your final destination if something goes wrong on the day of travel.

Use your points and miles

If you’re not having a lot of luck finding flights that fit your budget, you can turn to any points or miles you’ve earned by taking a flight or spending on a travel rewards credit card.

Related: The best travel credit cards of 2021.

All of the major US airlines have their own loyalty programs. If you’ve taken a flight with American, Delta, United, Southwest, or JetBlue, for example, in the past and added your frequent flyer number to the booking, you’ll have been rewarded with points and miles in exchange for your business. .

And if you’ve racked up enough points and miles in your accounts that have been dormant throughout the pandemic, Thanksgiving may be the best time to use them up.

For example, you can use your United Airlines MileagePlus miles on a flight from New York to San Francisco during the Thanksgiving vacation. A nonstop round trip flight from Monday November 22 to Monday November 29 will cost you 41,200 miles and only $ 11.20 in taxes and fees instead of $ 431 for the same flights.

United airlines

Roundtrip flight from New York to San Francisco using miles

While you won’t get the best value for your miles in a case like this, if you’re looking to save the money, it’s a no-brainer.

Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have enough United miles in your account right now, you can transfer them from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program as well. If you keep a Chase Sapphire card and earn ultimate rewards, those points are transferred instantly to United Airlines at a 1 to 1 rate.

Related: 6 reasons to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.

In general, it’s easier to use points and miles to book flights at popular travel times when you book well in advance, but as the example above shows, if you have some flexibility and you’ve saved points and miles, you can find some great deals even at this point in the game.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. If you haven’t set your travel plans yet, now is the time to do so. Although it is usually expensive to travel, it is still possible to find affordable plane tickets for this year’s vacation.

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