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In case you haven’t glanced at a calendar for a while, Thanksgiving is on Thursday (yes, this Thursday)!
But for travelers without firm plans — or for people who have decided last-minute to ditch the dinner drama and fly far away instead — it’s not too late to book a flight. Though the best time to buy holiday flights was in October, you can still get tickets for under $500 round-trip for travel between Nov. 20 and Nov. 25. Just be sure to act fast.
We used Kayak’s Explore tool, which allows you to set your parameters (departure airport, dates and maximum budget) to find available fares for $500 round-trip or less from major airports across the US. Don’t expect to make it to Paris on a tight budget this late in the game, but there are a number of great vacation destinations — yes, even international — where travelers can pass the long holiday weekend.
Travelers should be willing to get creative, of course. Many of these flights involve two one-way tickets, or a handful of other tricks (mixing and matching airports; getting to the office late on Monday) to bring down the total cost.
Don’t see a deal from your departure city? Don’t fret. Just use Kayak, or your preferred flight search engine, to look for the best deals from your home airport.
And whenever possible, book directly with the airline (or through Amex Travel) using The Platinum Card® from American Express for 5x points. If you’re directed to book through Orbitz, Kiwi or another travel portal, charge the tickets to your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card for 2x or 3x points, respectively.
Departing From New York City
- Hit the slopes instead of the turkey. Flights from JFK to Burlington, Vermont (BTV) are available for $373 round-trip on JetBlue.
- Warm up on Hilton Head Island (HHH) with flights from EWR for $470 with American Airlines.
- Travelers who can stomach basic economy — and can roll into the office late on Monday — can spend the holiday in Albuquerque (ABQ) for $403 round-trip.
- Feast at Epcot in Disney World with flights from EWR to Orlando (MCO) for $477 or less, if you fly with more than one airline.
Departing From Chicago (ORD)
- Hack your way to Cancun (CUN) for $421 with two one-way tickets on Spirit and Volaris (This is a Hacker Airfare.)
- Ditch dinner and the wintry weather with a $492 round-trip Hacker Fare to Las Vegas (LAS). Just note, you’ll have to spend the holiday weekend with Spirit and Frontier.
- Take advantage of $443 round-trip flights to San José del Cabo with American Airlines.
Departing from Los Angeles (LAX)
- Spend Thanksgiving in Vancouver (YVR) with a $438 round-trip Hacker Fare. To make it work at this price, however, you’ll have to fly home via Abbotsford (YXX), an hour drive away.
- If you have flexibility with your schedule, fly on Thanksgiving Day and return on Monday morning for $414 Hacker Flights to Mexico City (MEX).
- Hop over to Las Vegas (LAS) for $327 round-trip with a variety of airlines.
- Squeeze in an easy nonstop flight to Austin (AUS) for $497 in Delta basic economy.
If you do book a spontaneous Thanksgiving flight, remember to leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and through interminable security lines, especially if you’re traveling out of these 10 airports.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards