Early Thanksgiving-Christmas airfare sale

Southwest Airlines recently painted a 737 based on the Colorado state flag.

One of the biggest downsides of downsizing in the airline industry is that peak holiday airfares head into the stratosphere. Since 2005, the supply of airline seats flying around out there has declined about 10%. However, during holiday peaks, demand is the same or greater than before, which results in painful spikes in airfare.

Southwest and AirTran announced an interesting TWO DAY systemwide fare sale today, which offers nearly half off the going rate if you are willing to travel on the DAY of the holiday… i.e. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

This sale fare applies to flights on Thanksgiving Day (Nov 22), Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec 24) and Christmas Day (Tuesday, Dec 25).

Take a look at how much you can save if you are willing to fly on off peak days around Thanksgiving.


If you can fly out on Thanksgiving Day and return on the Tuesday after, the lowest fare is just $318.

But if you can only fly on peak days…such as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, the lowest fare spikes to $532:


The same goes for Southwest or AirTran nonstops between SFO and Atlanta.

Let’s say you get up early and fly to Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day, getting there just in time for an evening feast (and then returning on the Tuesday after). The lowest fare is $366.

But if you travel when everyone else wants to, such as the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after, you’ll pay dearly, with the lowest fare at $619.


Keep in mind that this is good today through Thursday only… so if you are mulling heading home for the holidays, it might be a good time to start checking fares and making decisions. While I used Southwest as an example, you will likely find other airlines matching these fares later today.

Another important note– see how I only searched for NONSTOP flights? I always suggest traveling non-stop during the winter holidays– it reduces the likelihood of delays and offers the maximum amount of time with family for the holidays. You will likely see nonstop fares rise significantly as we approach the holidays, while one-stop fares might be lower.

Here’s the fine print regarding this sale (identical for Southwest and AirTran):

  • Purchase from August 28 through August 30, 2012, 11:59 pm Pacific Time.
  • Travel September 7 through February 13, 2013.
  • Blackout Dates Apply: October 5, October 12, October 19, November 16-November 21, November 23-November 26, December 20-December 23, December 26-December 31, 2012, and January 1-January 2, 2013.
  • Sale fares not valid for travel to New Orleans January 31-February 2 or February 6-February 9, 2013, nor from New Orleans February 4-February 5 or February 7-February 13, 2013.
  • Travel valid every day except Sundays.
  • Offer not available to/from Washington D.C. (Dulles); Key West, FL

What about you? Is it time to bite the bullet and commit to holiday travel plans? Given the strength of the summer travel season, I don’t expect to see many fare sales for the holidays this year… 



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