Data-driven tips for finding holiday fares


Hoping to fly somewhere this Thanksgiving or over the December holidays?

As I learned doing this story during a fill-in stint on USA TODAY’s Today in the Sky, you don’t need to give up on finding a great fare.

“Airfares in general are down this year,” said editor Melisse Hinkle. “And, while the Sunday after Thanksgiving is still in high demand, travel seems to be spreading out more across the holiday week and weekend.”

A global travel insights report out today from travel-tech company Sojern confirms the “spreading out” trend.

The report found that this year 67% of Thanksgiving trips will last four to five days, compared to 64% last year.

Sojern’s data shows that, with fares 26% above the national mean, New York’s JFK International Airport will be the most expensive airport to fly out of this Thanksgiving, followed by San Francisco International (21% above the mean), Los Angeles (18%) and Philadelphia (11%).

At the other end of the spectrum, Sojern’s report suggests that this Thanksgiving flights out of Atlanta (with fares 33% below the national mean), Fort Lauderdale (18%) and Washington National (15%) may offer some of the best deals.


Cyber Monday deals

Travel deals are becoming popular during Cyber Monday sales and Sojern found that last year there was a fourfold increase in worldwide flight bookings on Cyber Monday.

“Americans responded the most dramatically to Cyber Monday last year, with an increase of 96% in flight bookings compared to Thanksgiving,” the report says.

Sojern expects the trend to continue this year.

“We expect consumers to continue to be on the hunt for travel deals this year, and, since Cyber Monday falls a little earlier in the quarter (the last day of November), prepare to see November bookings skyrocket thanks to this one magical day,” the report states.


Pick a place

Kayak’s Holiday Travel Hacker went live this week with a wide range of tips, tools and charts.

The “Escapes” tab is especially useful: It shows the top 10 cities around the world where holiday airfares have dropped the most, compared to last year’s fares.

Hong Kong tops the list, with a 29% drop in airfare prices over last holiday season, and there are two U.S. cities on the list: Chicago, at No. 4, shows a 25% decrease in airfare prices, while airfares to Cleveland, at No. 9, are lower this year by 19%.


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