With under 3 months until Thanksgiving, many people are starting to plan and book their travel for the holiday. Hopper’s data science team analyzed millions of flights from 2013 and 2014 to help consumers better navigate the booking process during one of busiest travel seasons.
Despite outlets urging people to book as early as possible, the majority of travelers last year didn't search for tickets until a month before departure (Figure 1). Less than 40% of all Thanksgiving travel searches occurred before October, and only 60% before November.
Figure 1: Cumulative percentage of flights related to Thanksgiving searched in 2013 from August to November
Fortunately, prices in 2013 remained flat up until about 10 days before departure, so those waiting until the first week of November to book still didn’t see much of a price increase. For those that neared the 10-day advance, however, prices typically rose 25%-30% for those looking to book up until three days before departure.
Figure 2: Average price for US flights before and during the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday as a function of days in advance
It is important to note that while prices for Thanksgiving travel typically remain more stable than non-Thanksgiving flights, airlines already place a significant premium on holiday travel. In 2013, Thanksgiving tickets were 35% higher than dates just before the holiday. Luckily this year’s prices are down 14% on average compared to last year, however consumers should be careful to track their specific market to find the best time to book.
The data presented in this analysis comes from Hopper’s combined feed of Global Distribution Service (GDS) data sources which includes billions of trips per day. Demand is represented as the number of queries not actual ticket purchases, and is calibrated across all GDS sources for each market.