Don't be ashamed. Many people wind up booking last minute air travel for Thanksgiving. You might ask: With airfares soaring, why would anyone wait until now?
Some cave in because they realize they really do want to be with friends or kin over the holiday—-even if it means traveling over the worst traveling weekend of the year. Others receive a last minute invitation they can't resist or were long hoping for. Some who are still suffering the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may be changing their Thanksgiving plans, opting to visit relatives in milder climates where someone else does the shopping and cooking.
While there are no holiday travel bargains for Johnny-come-latelies, Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare offers some tips for buying last-minute airline tickets:
1) Don't delay any longer
The last minute will only be more last minute if you delay. Don't wait for the Tuesday airline sales because seats are going to be harder to come by. Do your homework and find the best deal you can right now.
2) Fly and drive
When you check airfares, calculate the price of gasoline and parking to see if it makes any sense to drive to and fly out of a hub city with more flights and lower fares.
3) Tap into your frequent flyer mile piggy bank
Have you racked up miles on one airline or another in a frequent flyer account? Do you have Amex miles you can use for your trip? Contrary to what you might think, not all carriers have blackout dates over Thanksgiving. Although redemption rates may be steep, it still may be worthwhile to use your miles and save your cash for the holiday season next month.
4) Book a flight on Thanksgiving Day
Everyone wants to get to Grandma's House before the holiday and leave afterwards. If your destination is close enough to fly in or out on Thanksgiving Day, you may have some luck at snagging a seat at a better price.
5) Fly early or late with a layover
Be flexible. Forget flying direct flights prime time. Check into more economical early morning, late evening, or red-eye flights. Although less convenient, connecting flights can be cheaper than direct ones.
Whatever arrangements you make, last minute air travel is likely to be a hassle—-so be sure it's worth the toll, financially and emotionally. When you look at the prices and your options, you may well decide you would rather order-in at home on Thanksgiving Day, connect with your family and friends over Skype or a Google Hangout after dinner, and plan a visit for December with more lead time.
Previously on Life Goes Strong: Thanksgiving Airfares: When to Buy and When to Fly