FareCompare's Thanksgiving Flight Travel Guide

How will less flights and fewer seats affect you this holiday season?

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Average Difference in Thanksgiving Airfare from the Top 50 USA/CA Cities to Each Other

Average Difference in Thanksgiving Airfare from the Top 50 USA/CA Cities to Each Other

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, and there are now 35,000 less airplane seats to fill.

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) October 07, 2011

If flying this holiday season wasn't unnerving enough, Americans will face "a record number of airplane seats being chopped." Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of FareCompare Graeme Wallace stated to ABCNews, "The total seat reduction from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the Monday after the holiday is more than 600,000. If you look at the data in terms of reduced flights, it is over 8,000." To make matters even more challenging, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, and there are now 35,000 less airplane seats available.

Why Are Flights Being Reduced?

High fuel prices and a slow economy have caused many major airlines to reduce the number of flights they will offer this holiday season. While it’s normal for airlines to reduce flights after Labor Day (there’s simply less demand in the winter months), a few airlines are making much larger cuts than in previous years.

If the airlines can fill every plane, this means they won't have to sell seats at a discounted price. Is it cheaper to fly with empty seats than to discount them? Wallace answers, "Basically, if the airlines can keep capacity down and demand is still high, people just have to brace themselves and purchase the more expensive ticket. The only time we see holiday flight sales are when an airline decides to break rank and advertise a sale - other airlines are forced to follow if they want to compete."

How Much Will You Pay For Your Thanksgiving Holiday Flight?

Procrastinators may have difficulty finding a cheap flight. The bottom line is that airfares are averaging about $40 more than they were at the same time last year. Travelers who wait until the end of October to purchase Thanksgiving holiday flights will pay.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney's Top 5 Holiday Flight Shopping Tips

1. Beginning next week, you should add $5.00 (round-trip) to your Thanksgiving ticket price each day you procrastinate. Once we hit the last week in October, add $5.00 (round-trip) to your Christmas ticket each day you procrastinate.

2. Avoid the busiest Thanksgiving travel days on at least half of your trip. The good news is that airlines are telling you through their surcharges which days to avoid.

3. Fees can be good this time of year. For instance, "cut in line" fees like Southwest's EarlyBird Check-In will ensure you have the opportunity to pack those overly-stuffed carry-on bags in the overhead bins.

4. Be a Boy Scout: Prepare for the worst - flight delays, slowdowns airport waits, etc.

5. Use technology - setup flight status alerts for you and your family members so they don't head to the airport in inclement weather if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

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