Travel News

Thanksgiving Travel 2010 Update: Full Planes, High Fares

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User Xuaxo

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User Xuaxo

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons User Xuaxo

Plan on flying during the Thanksgiving holiday? Then expect to pay higher fares and to travel in a packed plane, revealed a report released by the Air Transport Association (ATA) on Monday.According to the ATA report, it’s estimated that around 24 million people will hop a flight during the 12-day period surrounding Thanksgiving Day. That’s a 3.4 percent increase over the number of travelers in 2009.

Passenger volumes will also be up with around 1.3 million to 2.5 million passengers flying per day. The ATA also estimates that load factors, which measure the fullness of an airplane, will soar to 90 percent.

The rise is travel demand is also boosting the price of Thanksgiving airfare, which in some cities is 17 to 18 percent higher than in 2009, according to a statement by, an airline ticket comparison shopping website.

According to travel Web site, travelers can expect to pay an average of $383 for a flight nationally during Thanksgiving, the highest average ticket price since 2007, when the national average was $385
per flight.

The Christmas holiday is expected to be equally pricey, says Priceline, with fares expect to average around $444, almost reaching the nation average high in 2008 when fares cost $452.

A report released by travel Web site Travelocity, however, pegs the national average at a more conservative $378 for a round-trip flight during the Thanksgiving holiday. Travelocity also estimates that for Christmas and New Year’s Day domestic airfare will average $457 and international airfare will average $900.

Meanwhile, Orbitz estimates fall somewhere in between, hovering around $400 around Thanksgiving, dropping slightly to $388 on Thanksgiving Day itself. Prices jump back up over the weekend and into the following Tuesday. Over the Christmas holidays, Orbitz is estimating domestic prices as high as $579 in the days leading up to December 25.

For those who have procrastinated, waiting until the last minute to buy tickets will not improve the chances of getting a deal.

With the airlines decreasing capacity and more people being able to afford airfare, the law of supply and demand will most likely force ticket prices up instead of down.

The key to securing affordable airfare this year is to be flexible with dates and times, avoiding high-traffic days.

ATA has predicted that Sunday, November 28, will see the highest volume of passengers during the Thanksgiving holiday. The second-busiest day is expected to be Monday, November 29, followed by Friday, November 19, and Wednesday, November 24.

One recommended strategy for Thanksgiving is to leave on the lightest travel day, Thanksgiving Day itself. By flying the morning of the holiday and to returning home on Friday, November 26, a passenger can bypass some of the more high traffic and expensive days.

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By Adriana Padilla for