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Thanksgiving flights slightly cheaper than Christmas flights

November 11, 2012|By Hugo Martin
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

If your grim financial situation means you have to choose between flying for Thanksgiving or the December holidays, you may get a better deal for Turkey Day.

The average price for a round-trip domestic flight in the days surrounding Thanksgiving is $420, about the same as last year, according to airline ticket data analyzed by travel website Priceline.com. But the average fare during the time that includes Christmas and New Year’s is up 3%, to $444.

If you had booked Thanksgiving reservations back in early October, you would have paid $393 on average, while the average December holiday airfare was $430, according to Priceline.com.

But if you waited to book your Thanksgiving flight, you are not alone.

As of Oct. 26, 78% of Americans who said they planned to travel for Thanksgiving had yet to make reservations, according to travel website Hotwire.

Travel experts say such procrastinators may regret waiting so long.

On the busiest travel days around Thanksgiving, the average flight will be 90% full, according to Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation's largest airlines.

In contrast, the average flight throughout 2011 was 82% full. Empty airline seats have become less and less common as airlines have merged, cut less-profitable routes and consolidated flights on popular routes.

“Flight reductions have reduced the number of available seats, and that, coupled with holiday travel demand, is enabling fares to creep upward,” said Brian Ek, a travel expert for Priceline.com. “The good news is that Thanksgiving airfares are back to running about flat with last year so, if you can only travel for one end-of-year holiday, that's probably the one to pick.”

ALSO:

FAA recommends seat inspections on some airlines

American Airlines' on-time rating drops during labor dispute

LAX, Chicago's O'Hare to be busiest U.S. airports for Thanksgiving

Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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