It’s no secret (or surprise) that fewer people will be taking to the skies this holiday season. Generally, reports have shown that airlines are expecting a 10 percent drop in air travel this Thanksgiving compared to last year. Of course, this is in line with a roughly 10 to 15 percent reduction in capacity across the industry, but nevertheless, the airlines will be a little short on passengers this holiday season.
Wait, short on passengers? During the holidays? Well, yes—sort of. Make no mistake, the holidays (and Thanksgiving in particular) are still the busiest times to travel, and airports clogged by long lines at security and the check-in counter. But it does seem that, for once, passengers still considering a flight home for some turkey and stuffing could find an empty seat. And maybe a deal.
Here at Smarter Travel, we’ve seen a number of fare sales recently, all for the Thanksgiving holiday. Southwest, Frontier, and Virgin America all announced deals the week before Thanksgiving for travel on and around the holiday. And while Frontier’s sale limited its lowest fares to days that may not work for everyone, Southwest’s and Virgin America’s prices are good for days right up to and immediately following Thanksgiving. Other carriers have waived their advance-purchase requirements for the holidays in an apparent effort to convince any last-minute travelers that they really should see the folks this year.
Does this mean the airlines are giving away free Thanksgiving tickets? Hardly. But it does mean that if you thought a flight home this year was out of your reach, you may be pleasantly surprised to find you were wrong.