Don’t count on the airfare wars to save you any money at Thanksgiving, which is traditionally the busiest travel time of the year.
Delta Airlines has led the way with fare reductions on flights through Dec. 12, although “Black Wednesday,” the day before Thanksgiving Day, and the weekend afterward, are blacked out. Analysts estimate Thanksgiving airfares rose 10 to 15 percent nationwide from last year’s figures, the San Francisco Examiner reported.
Price won’t deter many holiday travelers. In fact, San Francisco International Airport expects about 1 million passengers between Friday and the Monday after Thanksgiving. Spokesman Mike McCarron estimates that figure is roughly half of a percent more than last year.
"Everyone wants to fly on the Wednesday before and the Sunday after," said Kevin Kalley, editor of the BestFares.com travel site. "Demand is high even to little Podunk towns,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “People have family everywhere."
According to Expedia’s Thanksgiving Travel Forecast, planes will be flying at 90 percent capacity, and new security measures will create longer waits at check-ins and baggage claims.
There’s no way to avoid the delays altogether, but Expedia advises travelers to choose early-morning or nonstop flights and to check in at the curb.
McCarron said travelers should check the status of their flights before leaving home, arrive at the airport at least two hours before take-off for domestic flights and not carry gift-wrapped presents.
Thanksgiving will cost a bit more for hosts too.
Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the rest of a dinner for 10 people, will cost $38.10 this year, an increase of $1.32 from last year, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported Tuesday in its 21st annual survey. The higher price of turkeys accounts for much of the increase, but the farm bureau says the dinner is still affordable.
“The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has remained around $20 for the past 16 years. Despite some significant economic obstacles, including rising fuel costs, American farmers continue to provide wholesome, affordable food for American consumers,” said Terrry Franci, the bureau’s senior economist.
Adjusted for inflation, the cost this year is $18.99, which is 34 percent less than the first survey in 1986, when the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for a family of 10 was $28.74.