Book your next flight on Thanksgiving Day

Book your next flight on Thanksgiving Day
Travelers check-in for flights in the airport terminal at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, in 2016.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
  • I'm traveling on Thanksgiving this year to save money and avoid crowds.
  • It turns out, flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day is better than flying on other days during the holidays.
  • Holiday flights are notoriously less expensive and crowded than flights on the days surrounding the holiday, Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told Insider.
  • Avoiding crowds while traveling can also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Business Insider previously reported.
  • Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that any "travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19." The CDC is also urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving this year.

My mom asked me to come home for the holidays this year, so I booked my flight for Thanksgiving Day.

Whether it's Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day, I usually find the best deals and least-packed flights when I fly on the holiday.

And I'm not the only one.

Scott Keyes, Chief Flight Expert and founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told Insider that if you're flying during the holiday period, traveling on the holiday itself is almost always the cheapest option.

This year, flights on the holiday are up to 6% cheaper than flights on the days surrounding them, Matt Clarke, KAYAK's vice president of North America marketing, told Insider.


"While there's huge demand to travel just before and just after major holidays, most people try to avoid traveling on the holiday itself, hoping to spend it with family instead," Keyes said.

"The result is that bargain-hunters can indeed get cheaper fares on December 25 than December 24, for instance," he said.

I figured this could also be a safer way for me to fly this year. And, while there are no guarantees, some experts seem to agree with that logic.

Keyes said the additional perk of less crowded airports and flights is especially useful for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

"With many people concerned about how full their flight might be, traveling on a holiday itself is a good way to increase your chances of an emptier flight," Keyes told Insider. "Especially considering the days before and after tend to be crowded."


The Wednesday before and the Sunday following Thanksgiving will likely be the busiest travel days this holiday season, Clarke told Insider.

And traveling during the holidays this year is risky due to the coronavirus pandemic, so much so that the CDC is recommending against travel during the Thanksgiving period.

Dr. Nate Favini previously told Business Insider that avoiding travel is the safest option, especially if you're taking public transportation.

But if you do decide to travel this season, Favini stressed the importance of assessing your risk.

Flying is safer when you use PPE, hand sanitizer, and wipes for surfaces, Insider reports.


And air travel may be safer than you'd expect, as planes have state-of-the-art filtration systems and strict requirements to wear masks.

But that doesn't apply to crowded airports, and the more people you're around, the greater your risk of contracting coronavirus, according to the CDC.

"It continues to be prudent to keep as distant from people as possible, no matter where you are," William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, previously told Business Insider.

Favini also suggests assessing the risk of those you're visiting and making yourself aware of the coronavirus levels where you are and where you are going.

"The best way to travel safely is to plan it out and think about where you are going in relation to the virus," Favini told Business Insider.


While Clarke notes that this year's savings are minimal and may not be worth missing family time over, I've decided it's a worthwhile venture for me.

In the past, flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas has meant missing dinner.

But this year, my flight lands at 11 a.m., and I feel more comfortable flying during a less busy travel day.

Read more:

6 questions to ask yourself if you want to travel for the holidays, according to experts


The riskiest activities linked to COVID-19 infection, from sharing a car to having a 30-minute conversation