Airlines

When to fly to save money on Thanksgiving travel

Travelers walk to their gates at LaGuardia Airport in New York ahead of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2013.

Travelers walk to their gates at LaGuardia Airport in New York ahead of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2013.  (AP File Photo)

Think it's too early to start planning for America's greatest food holiday?  If the only Thanksgiving problem you're contemplating is the great cranberry conundrum (berries vs. jellied), you'd better start gearing up for the bigger battle --when to buy your air tickets. 

But before you start, remember, there are no bargains at Thanksgiving. There are, however, cheaper and more expensive days to fly. 

Here are the cheapest, coming and going.

Best departure dates (starting with the cheapest):

--Thursday, Nov. 26 (yes, Turkey Day)
--Monday, Nov. 23
--Tuesday, Nov. 24

Best return dates (again, starting with the cheapest)

--Tuesday, Dec. 1
--Monday, Nov. 30
--Saturday, Nov. 28

Don't fly on these days.

These are currently days with the highest prices. If one of these must be part of your itinerary, try to pair it with a cheaper day and you'll probably still save something.

--Wednesday, Nov. 25
--Sunday, Nov. 29

Flying Wednesday to Sunday is the most expensive itinerary of all because it is the most popular.

Why you should buy now.

Another way to cut costs is to buy Turkey Day airfare now. For every day you delay in October, expect to pay an additional $5 per day (on average) for a ticket. The sooner you buy, the less you'll spend.

Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site