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Thanksgiving College Break – How to Fly Cheap?

Published by Marty Dubon

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This is this time of the year again. Thanksgiving is around the corner. As a college student you are looking forward to flying home to a well-deserved rest. You know that Thanksgiving break is the busiest time of the year to fly and yet you still haven’t booked your ticket. So book it right away! Everybody told you, the closer you get to Thanksgiving Day the more expensive the plane ticket will be. Planes will be packed, and there will be no last minute great deal. I tend to disagree; you can either buy now or wait until a week before Thanksgiving. Deals are and will be around as long as you are smart and flexible.

How to buy your airfare the smart way?

You are a student. It means you have privileges, use them. As long as you can prove that you are either a faculty member (I was one for many years so I know) or a student you can use online student travel agencies and buy at a discount.

  • Check the travel aggregators online before anything. You want to have a good idea of the cheapest airfares available to non-students as to compare them with student airfares. You don’t want to pass up a great deal.
  • Buy your ISIC card right away. If you are a full-time students and are enrolled for the current academic year at an accredited institution you can buy it. It only cost $22 and will give you access to the best student discount on the market, for example you save 11% on flights with JetBlue.
  • Go to student travel agencies to start your search for the lowest student airfares. When I book a trip for my children I like to use StudentUniverse or STA Travel. STA guarantees the lowest prices on student airfares. If you find a better price they will match it and give you a free ISIC card.
  • Finally, make sure you check the direct discounters. I like to use Travel Discounters as they often have special unpublished fares.

How to be flexible when you buy your airfare?

Do you really need to arrive on Thanksgiving Eve? If you do, then everybody was right and you should book your ticket right away. But do you? If you fly on Thanksgiving Eve you will pay the highest possible fares, you will find yourself completely stressed out by long lines and angry passengers. So you should simply:

  • Fly on Thanksgiving Day. You will get very low airfares even if you buy only one week in advance. Airplanes are empty; nobody flies on Thanksgiving Day so airlines sell their tickets cheap. And there are other pros, think no line, no crowded airport and no stressed out flight attendant.
  • Live on the edge. You can also fly Standby with Airtran U. You will get amazing deals. Flying from or to almost any city in the continental US for less than $69 is feasible. Normally it would not be possible to take advantage of this opportunity during Thanksgiving Day as AirTran has Blackout dates around this time. But this year there is a window. Thanksgiving Day is November 25 and AirTran’s blackout dates are the 24, 27-29 of November. I do not advise you to take this road though as it is a bit too risky even for my tastes.

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