Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Early Bookings Surge as Travelers Rush to Secure Deals
According to industry experts, early bookings for Thanksgiving travel are surging as people scramble to lock in deals ahead of the holiday crush. After two years of COVID disruptions, it seems many are eager to reunite with loved ones and get back to celebrating in the traditional style. The urge to secure reservations now is being driven by predictions of packed planes, trains and hotel rooms, as well as fears of skyrocketing costs closer to Thanksgiving.
Travel search engine Kayak reports Thanksgiving flight bookings are up 47% compared to 2019 levels. And data from Hopper shows domestic airfare around the holiday will average $350, a 25% increase compared to last year. With demand swelling, airlines are responding by adding more seats and flights to popular routes in November. But experts say snagging a deal now is still your best bet to avoid paying a premium.
“The early bird gets the worm when it comes to Thanksgiving travel deals,” says airfare analyst Torsten Jacobi. “As we get closer to the holiday, flight prices typically soar. Travelers who need flexibility should book refundable fares if possible. But those who can lock in dates should act fast to get the lowest fares.”
The same urgency applies to lodging. Hotel rates in vacation hot spots like Orlando, Las Vegas and New York City start climbing in October. Data from Tripadvisor shows 60% of travelers book accommodations by early November. Waiting until the last minute can leave few options beyond airports motels or marked-up luxury suites.
“With hotels, you’ll almost always save by booking in advance. But around the holidays, the savings are usually substantial,” says Jacobi. “In destination cities, prices can easily double from October to Thanksgiving week. Even smaller towns and rural areas see hikes. So make reservations as early as you can to avoid sticker shock.”
For road trips, rental cars are expected to be in short supply. After companies downsized fleets during COVID, they now can’t keep pace with surging demand. Experts advise reserving vehicles now before daily rates jump or availability disappears altogether over the holiday.
What else is in this post?
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Early Bookings Surge as Travelers Rush to Secure Deals
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Airfares Expected to Soar Near Holiday Despite High Demand
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Major Airlines Add Seats and Flights to Accommodate Holiday Crush
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Hotels in Popular Destinations Filling Up Fast, Rates Rising
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Travelers Urged to Lock in Rental Cars Now Before Shortages Hit
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Tips to Navigate Crowds and Delays During Busiest Travel Weekend
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Best Destinations for Avoiding the Thanksgiving Travel Madness
- Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Staying Home and Hosting? Prepare for Holiday Food and Guests
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Airfares Expected to Soar Near Holiday Despite High Demand
Despite travelers booking early this year, experts predict airfares will still skyrocket as Thanksgiving approaches. The surge in demand is simply too high for prices not to swell, even with airlines adding capacity.
"Airfare arbitrage around the holidays is a time-honored tradition for U.S. airlines," says airfare analyst Torsten Jacobi. "They know demand will spike, so they adjust fares accordingly. With travelers itching to get together after COVID disruptions, we expect fares to reach new heights this Thanksgiving."
Data from fare analysts Hopper confirms airlines will likely unleash dramatic holiday markups. Domestic flights around Thanksgiving are projected to average $350, a 25% jump compared to 2021. For some routes, prices could swell higher still. Flights from Los Angeles to New York City are averaging $461 for Thanksgiving week, up 38% year-over-year.
The surge reflects pent-up demand after two years of muted holiday travel. But airlines are also grappling with higher fuel and labor costs, which they'll pass to passengers. Add in ongoing aircraft shortages, and conditions are ripe for holiday fare hikes.
"Holiday airfare increases are an easy way for airlines to bolster revenues," explains travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt. "When consumers are desperate to get home for Thanksgiving, they'll pay whatever it takes. Airlines would be foolish not to capitalize on this seasonal uptick in demand."
For price-conscious travelers, the imminent airfare spike presents a dilemma. Booking now locks in lower pre-holiday fares but reduces flexibility. Yet waiting for deals risks sticker shock and scramble near Thanksgiving.
"Consumers need to weigh tradeoffs between cost, convenience and flexibility," advises Harteveldt. "Booking in advance on non-refundable tickets usually brings the lowest fares but zero flexibility. Refundable tickets cost more but enable changes. Travelers can also book now then reprice later to snag sales, if any emerge."
No matter when you book, expect holiday airfares higher across the board. For frugal flyers, dodging the Thanksgiving fare frenzy will be tough, if not impossible. But booking sooner than later will likely deliver the best deals.
"To avoid sizable holiday markups, the best advice is buy early," says Jacobi. "We expect even the cheapest carriers like Spirit Airlines will hike fares as Thanksgiving approaches. Sales might pop up but will be very limited. Lock in your flights now before seats disappear and prices take off."
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Major Airlines Add Seats and Flights to Accommodate Holiday Crush
Facing enormous demand, major airlines are furiously adding seats and flights to handle the holiday crush this Thanksgiving. After two subdued seasons, travelers are raring to celebrate in full force again. Airlines expect passenger volumes to rival or even surpass pre-pandemic levels.
To meet the surge, carriers are hauling out their biggest jets and scheduling additional trips on popular routes. Data from OAG shows airlines have added over 700,000 extra seats for November, a nearly 5% increase over 2021. The expansion includes both new flights and larger aircraft.
United Airlines plans to operate 3,500 daily domestic flights in November, a 7% jump from last Thanksgiving. The increase consists of 270 more departures spread across United's network. Rival American Airlines also plans to add 700 new flights around peak Thanksgiving travel days. Not to be outdone, Delta is bulking up schedules with 200 extra trips and widebody planes like the A350 and 767 on select routes.
The capacity boost aims to prevent the massive disruptions that marred summer travel, when airlines struggled to meet demand. With proper planning and resources, carriers hope to minimize delays, cancellations and luggage debacles.
"Airlines don't want to repeat the same operational blunders as this past summer," explains air industry consultant Henry Harteveldt. "By aggressively adding seats and planes now, carriers are trying to stabilize flight schedules and avoid leaving travelers stranded over the holidays."
But tamping down on disruptions may come at the cost of reasonable fares. Bigger planes and added frequencies enable airlines to capture greater revenues. With travelers expected to pay holiday premiums regardless, carriers have minimal incentive to offer deals or discounts.
"Increasing capacity doesn't mean cheaper flights for consumers," notes airfare analyst Torsten Jacobi. "Airlines will monetize every extra seat to maximize their holiday revenue potential. Travelers should expect higher fares even with more scheduled flights."
Nonetheless, the capacity moves will prevent the nightmare scenario of massive cancellations and minimal rebooking options. Aircraft and crew shortages left airlines unable to recover quickly from summer snafus. With schedules reinforced for the holiday crunch, operational performance should see some stability.
"For airlines, delivering a smooth, disruption-free Thanksgiving is the top priority," says aviation expert Henry Harteveldt. "By scaling up, carriers reduce risk of meltdowns during the year's busiest travel period. Overbooking and inflated fares are preferable to leaving travelers stranded."
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Hotels in Popular Destinations Filling Up Fast, Rates Rising
As travelers flock to book Thanksgiving getaways, hotel rates are climbing rapidly while rooms disappear in popular destinations nationwide. From vacation havens like Orlando and Las Vegas to major hubs including New York and San Francisco, lodging availability is swiftly dwindling as demand swells for the first unconstrained holiday in years.
According to data from Tripadvisor, hotel bookings for Thanksgiving week are up over 15% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. But while demand rises, room supply remains limited. Many properties that shuttered during COVID never reopened, constraining capacity just as crowds return. This mismatch between surging occupancy appetite and lagging lodging inventory is triggering a classic economic squeeze: rocketing rates and fleeting vacancies.
In prime tourist magnets, the crunch is proving most intense. Las Vegas typically hosts over 300,000 visitors for Thanksgiving week festivities. But this year, room rates on The Strip have exploded over 60% from last year, averaging near $300 per night. For travelers still seeking lodging, choices are down to exorbitantly priced luxury towers or budget motels far from central attractions.
Similarly in Orlando, home to Disney World and other theme parks, hotel prices for Thanksgiving have shot up over 30% year-over-year according to lodging data firm STR. Nightly rates at mid-range hotels near the parks now hover between $200 to $300. Yet discounted rooms farther away are also drying up.Procrastinating families may find local motels their only remaining option.
For urban hubs, the supply and demand imbalance also breeds hotel headaches. In San Francisco, STR data reveals rates have climbed over 20% compared to last Thanksgiving. Business-centric hotels that rely on convention and conference demand have especially limited availability. Remaining rooms left are largely suite-style accommodations priced over $400 per night.
And in New York City, STR reports occupancy rates projected around 90% for Thanksgiving week – much higher than a typical November. The surge pushed average nightly rates up over 15% from 2021. Remaining rooms are largely restricted to boutique hotels and budget chains in outer boroughs.
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Travelers Urged to Lock in Rental Cars Now Before Shortages Hit
With demand for rental cars surging, travelers are being urged to secure reservations now before shortages hit for Thanksgiving travel. After downsizing fleets during COVID, car rental firms now face outright inventory shortfalls in many markets just as crowds return. Procrastinating travelers risk exorbitant rates, limited selection or no cars available at all.
“Rental car availability is incredibly tight for the holidays this year,” explains analyst Torsten Jacobi. “After slashing fleets, companies can’t ramp up fast enough to meet demand. Cars are booked out early while daily rates climb higher. Last-minute shoppers will likely pay the price through limited options and spiking fees.”
Industry data confirms Jacobi’s warnings. According to AutoSlash.com, which tracks holiday car rental trends, daily rates around Thanksgiving have already jumped 20-40% year over year for popular airport locations. Further increases are expected as remaining inventory disappears.
For those traveling to visit family or take leisure trips, experts emphasize booking rental cars now, even before locking in airfare or hotels. Rental companies manage fleets market-by-market, so shortages reflect local demand. Securing a reservation guarantees travelers won’t get shut out later.
“Unlike airlines, rental car companies can’t simply add capacity or shift assets once shortfalls appear,” Jacobi explains. “Their fleets are fixed, so when cars sell out in a market, that’s it. Travelers are left scrambling while companies keep raising daily rates. Avoid the holiday rental car crunch by reserving early.”
Consumer stories this summer underscore the havoc shortages can unleash. At airports from Denver to Phoenix, angry travelers reported waiting hours only to snag the lone remaining van or compact sedan. In Hawaii, travelers had cars canceled outright or were forced into convertibles and other less suitable vehicles.
Avoiding these holiday hassles requires planning ahead. Experts advise booking as far in advance as possible, even before air travel. Reserving now locks in availability before the inevitable crunch.shop. Comparison sites like Kayak enable travelers to find the best Thanksgiving rental rates across companies and rebook if cheaper prices emerge. But waiting until the last minute is not advised.
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Tips to Navigate Crowds and Delays During Busiest Travel Weekend
Thanksgiving is notoriously the busiest travel period of the year, with choked roads, stuffed planes, and endless lines defining the experience at airports and tourist sites nationwide. After two subdued holidays, this Thanksgiving is shaping up as a blockbuster based on early data. Experts estimate U.S. travel volume will match or exceed pre-pandemic levels.
For travelers navigating the expected crush, smart navigation and coping strategies will prove essential. According to travel veterans like myself, realistic expectations, savvy planning, and clever workarounds separate holiday survivalists from the overwhelmed masses. Here are my top tips for tackling crowds and delays while maintaining your sanity:
Arrive absurdly early. For flights, aim for 2+ hours before domestic departures, 3+ hours for international. At train stations and rental car counters, target at least 60-90 minutes pre-departure, assuming waits triple normal times. Budget abundant buffer knowing other travelers are doing the same. Use early arrival to grab breakfast, coffee or get work done rather than standing restless in bottleneck lines.
Strategically book at off-hours. Opt for early morning or late-night flights to avoid prime-time congestion. Take the first bus, train or museum/attraction opening to beat crowds. For rental cars, accept mid-afternoon pickups when most are getting dropped off. Avoid peak lunch and dinner times by eating early or late. Know crowds cluster and time activities to miss the bedlam.
Embrace mobile perks. Sign up for TSA PreCheck or Clear to breeze airport security and avoid delays. Download airline, rental car and transit apps, with boarding passes and reservations pre-loaded, to skip lines and kiosks. Mobile food-ordering lets you skip crowded cafes and restaurants. Wherever possible, use apps to fast-track.
Avoid check-ins and kiosks. Curbside and online check-ins help prevent waits at hotel front desks. Same for airline and rental car kiosks – use mobile apps instead unless no other option. Inside terminals, self check-in kiosks bog down with confused tourists. Bypass and use online or curbside options exclusively during holidays.
Pack snacks, entertainment and charger backups. With restaurants and stores mobbed, carry protein bars, fruit, and other noshes so hunger doesn’t push you into packed eateries. Stock headphones, books, tablets to pass time in lines and delays. Bring portable chargers in case of outlet shortages. Plan for self-reliance given holiday crowds.
Use lounge passes and status perks. Airport lounges offer sanctuary from terminal madness. Buy day passes or use airline/credit card status to access. Business class travelers typically enjoy priority boarding, check-in, security lines and baggage handling – use perks to skip crowds. Every shortcut helps reduce holiday hassles.
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Best Destinations for Avoiding the Thanksgiving Travel Madness
For travelers seeking refuge from the holiday hustle and bustle, certain destinations remain largely crowd-free and relaxed even during busy Thanksgiving week. By picking the right spot, you can delight in a peaceful, hassle-free vacation while the masses cram into airports and tourist traps back home.
Sedona, Arizona – With most visitors focused on spending the holiday with family, the trails, vistas and spas of stunning red rock country see far fewer hikers and mountain bikers than normal. Lodges and restaurants are quieter too. Sedona offers easy access to outdoor recreation along with a charming small-town vibe.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – While Cancun and Cabo fill up with classmates on Thanksgiving break, Puerto Vallarta retains a mature, sophisticated ambience. The beaches stay uncrowded and many cafes and shops maintain normal hours. With pleasant temperatures and easy flights from the West Coast, it's an idyllic escape.
Charleston, South Carolina – This genteel Southern city doesn't see the customary tourist influx over Thanksgiving. Historic downtown streets stay walkable, and stately inns and bed and breakfasts have vacancies. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, quality dining and relaxing strolls along the waterfront.
Banff, Alberta – Summer and winter months draw big international crowds to the Canadian Rockies. But November brings far fewer visitors, even on U.S. holidays. With discounted hotel rates, the majestic scenery of Banff is pricelessly peaceful. Local outfitters lead surreal wilderness excursions.
San Juan, Puerto Rico – Following devastating 2017 hurricanes, tourism infrastructure is rebounding fast in Puerto Rico's historic capital. This Thanksgiving, Old San Juan's cobblestone streets, imposing fortresses and lively nightlife are ideal without seasonal visitor congestion. Escape the mainland for Puerto Rico's alluring blend of tropical atmosphere, cuisine, music and friendly culture.
Gobble Up the Savings: Thanksgiving Travel Set to Stuff Airlines and Hotels - Staying Home and Hosting? Prepare for Holiday Food and Guests
For those opting out of Thanksgiving travel madness, hosting holiday celebrations at home brings its own preparation and planning. With guests expecting a feast, hosts must strategize everything from food quantities to seating arrangements. Experienced home chefs share tips on providing a warm, smooth gathering without undue stress or costs.
Amateur cooks commonly underestimate quantities when hosting large groups. "My first Thanksgiving, I barely made enough food," recalls homemaker Lisa Chen. "I thought a 22-pound turkey would feed everyone. But with a packed house, we ran short on portions. Now I know better – go big on quantities, especially proteins."
Chen suggests purchasing turkeys 15-20% larger than recipe recommendations to ensure ample leftovers. Allow 1.5 pounds turkey per person as a baseline. "Err on the higher side," Chen advises. "You can use surplus turkey creatively later for soups, sandwiches and casseroles."
When sourcing ingredients, wholesaler restaurant supply stores like Costco Business Center and Jet.com offer savings on bulk holiday staples like canned pumpkin, broth, butter and potatoes. Buying two weeks in advance locks in the lowest prices. Frozen peas, stuffing mix and cranberries keep well too.
To ease meal prep, delegate dishes to capable guests, advises homemaker Trevor Wu. "Don't take on everything yourself. Potlucks are perfect for Thanksgiving. Assign people items like appetizers, sides, desserts and beverages. Offer your kitchen for heating and prep."
Come mealtime, Wu sets up buffet stations around the home to prevent crowding in the kitchen. Multiple tables hold entrees, sides, salads and breads so people circulate freely to fill plates. "Make food access easy so everyone enjoys themselves. And always have twice the seating as guests."