Best time to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving 2019. The delay in returning the Boeing 737 Max to operations might throw a wrench in your travel plans.

Planning a trip home for the holidays? 

Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets for Thanksgiving 2019

The best time to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving 2019 is between September 25th and October 27th, according to research by AAA that analyzed flight booking data from the last three years. 

“Last year, AAA projected that 54.3 million Americans would travel over the Thanksgiving holiday and a record-breaking 112.5 million during the longer year-end holiday season,” says Paula Twidale, vice president of AAA Travel. “If those trends hold again this year, travelers are in for crowded airports and, possibly, longer wait times.”

Her best advice? “Pack your patience and plan ahead, giving yourself plenty of time at the airport to maintain that holiday cheer.” 

There’s another compelling reason to start thinking about holiday travel now. Additional delays have caused airlines to push back the return of the Boeing 737 Max and the shortage of flights during what’s traditionally the busiest time to travel is sure to cause more headaches for passengers – not to mention digging a deeper hole in their wallet.  

What Does the Boeing 737 Max Delay Mean for Airline Ticket Prices?

All Boeing 737 Max planes have been grounded worldwide after two fatal Max plane crashes killed 346 people in October 2018 and March 2019. Now, airlines have pushed the plane’s return to operations out as far as December 19th after additional delays in resolving mechanical and software issues. As a result, major airlines will cancel thousands of flights in the fourth quarter of the year. United Airlines has said it will cancel 4,500 flights this November and December. American Airlines will cancel 140 flights each day while the Boeing 737 Max remains grounded.

Proactively removing the Boeing 737 Max from scheduled service gives airlines the chance to contact affected customers and rebook them or offer refunds. This will help them avoid a domino of canceled flights, but the plane’s grounding will affect passengers through limited flights and potentially higher fares.

What Are the Best Days to Buy Airline Tickets Around Thanksgiving?

AAA found that flying on the 25th of November, the Monday before Thanksgiving, is the best option for travelers to arrive at their destinations before the holiday. It’s a lighter travel day than later in the week (the two days before Thanksgiving are when airports will be the busiest). These days also have the lowest average ticket price ($486) prior to the holiday.  

The cheapest flights you can buy are on Thanksgiving day when the average ticket price is as low as $454, but of course, that means you’re traveling on the holiday itself and that could interfere with your plans for the day.

And While We’re on the Subject: Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets for Christmas 2019

The best time to buy airline tickets for Christmas 2019 is from September 26th through October 25th when passengers will spend an average of $551 on flights. 

Christmas Eve,  December 24th, is the best overall day to fly with the lowest average ticket priced at $527. Airports will be the busiest between December 21st and 23rd. 

The most expensive ticket is right after Christmas on December 26th when many passengers opt to travel leading up to New Year’s. The average ticket price for December 25th is $692.

Booking Last Minute Flights for the Holidays

Historically, there are deals to be had for holiday travel even if you wait until the very last minute. Travelers can find airline tickets for an average of $482 for Thanksgiving or $488 for Christmas when they book flights in the 13 days before each holiday, but flight availability is likely to be very limited by that time, especially if the Boeing 737 Max remains grounded.

The holidays will be here before we know it. The report by AAA is a great reminder that planning ahead can save you money and give you one less thing to worry about during the busiest, most stressful time of year to travel.

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