-- Flying over Thanksgiving: For many, a necessary evil. With airfare averaging $322 per ticket this year according to Hopper, how's a traveler to save money and make it to their destination in time for turkey dinner?
1. Book immediately.
There's no reason to think you'll find a last-minute deal on airfare over Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter. Demand is high and prices reflect that. As a general rule, last-minute airfare deals are hard to come by unless you're extremely flexible on your destination -- which is very rarely the case over the holidays.
2. If you're flying with one or more people, first price out your seats together and then price them out separately.
Because of the ever-more complicated way airlines charge for seats (the front few rows of economy may cost more, for example), the first price you see with all seats together may not be the cheapest seats on the flight. But buyer beware: though there's a good chance the gate agent will figure out a way to seat your family together, it's far from guaranteed. Only you know if your travel companions will be okay if they have to sit alone.
3. Travel on Thanksgiving if you can.
Thanksgiving Day typically offers the cheapest flights, fewer crowds and shortest lines. If you can take a Thanksgiving morning flight and still get to your destination in time for the festivities, this is a good option for saving money and stress. If not, opt to fly on the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving and the Friday after, or not again until the Tuesday following the holiday. Travelocity estimates a savings of 30 percent when traveling on the less popular days.
4. Large airports are your friend.
Yes, they tend to be more crowded and more of a hassle to move through. But you can bet your bottom dollar you'll find cheaper fares in and out of large city airports than you will smaller regional airports. Competition is fierce at large airports while it's practically non-existent at small ones. More competition = lower prices. Added bonus: If you fly in and out of large airports you're less likely to have to make a connection, something that should be avoided at all costs during peak travel periods. Every connecting flight is just one more opportunity for flights to be missed or cancelled and bags mishandled.
5. Bypass the baggage fees.
This is the first holiday season JetBlue is charging for a first checked bag, something sure to catch many infrequent fliers by surprise. Plus, Frontier and Spirit are both adding holiday surcharges to checked bags this holiday season, ranging from $2 - $10 each way.