This blog post was updated on November 23, 2021.

You can almost smell the pumpkin pie baking in the oven … and then you realize you have to travel for Thanksgiving. Suddenly those dreams of watching football and the parade with all of your nearest and dearest can seem more like a pain than pleasure. Especially when you think about how you’ll get to your final destination. Most travelers dread Thanksgiving travel in large part due to the stigmas associated with the holiday. We’re inundated with a number of myths that further the negative connotations about Thanksgiving travel. Before you get your elbows at the ready to fight your way through the airport check-in lines, we’re debunking a few Thanksgiving travel myths that might have you seeing traveling for the holiday in a whole new light.

Myth #1: Last-Minute Deals Don’t Exist for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Travel Myths: couple on laptop happy after finding flight deals for Thanksgiving

If you want to save on airfare, you’ll want to find cheap flights in November at least a few months in advance. However, while the further out you book for Thanksgiving usually lends a reward of a lower airfare, that doesn’t mean last-minute flight deals are unheard of for Thanksgiving travel. As it gets closer to the holiday, there are sometimes seats the closer it that airlines are looking to fill. If you’re a bit of a gambler, you might be able to score a last-minute flight deal, even for Thanksgiving. The same can be said about hotels. Booking last-minute deals the week of Thanksgiving is possible as there are more options than there are flights generally.

Myth #2: The Wednesday Before Thanksgiving Is the Busiest Day to Fly

Airport rush: people with their suitcases walking along a corridor

If you’ve ever traveled on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you might believe that it’s the busiest day to fly all year. However, you should be more concerned about your return flight on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Usually, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest time for airports, even more than the Wednesday before the holiday. Also, if you’ve ever flown around a summer holiday like the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or Labor Day, you might know that these days can actually be busier than the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Related: Traveling This Turkey Day? You’ll Be Grateful for These Thanksgiving Travel Tips!

Myth #3: Your Flight Will Probably Be Delayed

Thanksgiving Travel Myths: woman with hand luggage in international airport terminal, looking at information board, checking her flight.

During the Thanksgiving holiday week, most travelers assume their flight will be delayed thanks to the record numbers of passengers. However, November actually proves to be one of the best months for on-time departures. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2018, 81.21% of flights in November left on time — better than May, June, July, and August. In 2017, 87.93% of departing flights in November were on time, making it the best month out of the entire year for on-time departures. In 2016, November was still a winner with 85.71% of flights experiencing on-time departures, again the best performer out of all of the months in the year. Even when looking at the specific Thanksgiving travel days, flights were still mostly on time. In 2018, flights the day before Thanksgiving were 84% on time. In 2017 that percentage was even higher with 90% of flights departing on time the day before Thanksgiving. In 2016, 88% of flights the day before Thanksgiving left on schedule.

Myth #4: Travel Is More Expensive around Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Travel Myths: Airport rush: Air Ticket Flight Booking Concept

Most of us focus on the airfare for Thanksgiving, conceding that we’ll usually pay more to fly for the holiday. And while airfare does tend to rise for Thanksgiving as the time frame of the holiday really only allows people certain days to fly, not all aspects of Thanksgiving travel can be expensive. While gas prices around Thanksgiving did increase slightly for 2018, the previous years since 2014 saw a steady decline, according to AAA. In addition to gas prices, Thanksgiving travel isn’t always expensive in terms of hotel nights either. As there are fewer business travelers during the week of Thanksgiving and more and more people staying at Grandma’s house than a hotel, hotel rates can go down in order to entice travelers to book.

Thanksgiving travel might sound intimidating and anxiety-inducing for some travelers, but by looking at the realities of traveling during the holiday week, it can be less of a headache than you’ve imagined.

What other Thanksgiving travel myths have you discovered aren’t true? Share your experience with us in the comments below!


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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at