Bracing for its busiest week since March, United Airlines will add over 1,400 domestic flights for Thanksgiving week.
United Airlines Adds Thanksgiving Week Flights
Traditionally, Thanksgiving travel is booked months in advance. While attending law school, I can remember booking Thanksgiving travel quite early in order to take advantage of preferential flights and upgrades. But 2020 is a very different year and United estimates that 50% of customers will book Thanksgiving travel within 30 days of the holiday.
To compensate for what it hopes will be increased last-minute demand, United will add over 1,400 flights domestic flights during Thanksgiving week. Additionally, it will be monitor loads and be ready to swap in larger aircraft between city pairs, as appropriate.
As Ankit Gupta, United’s Vice President of Network Planning and Scheduling, explained:
“We know that for many customers, this holiday season may be their first time back on a plane since the start of the pandemic, and we’re committed to helping provide flexibility and a safer, clean, travel experience. While this holiday travel season looks quite different than recent years, we’re continuing to follow the same playbook we have all year long – watching the data and adding more flights, adjusting schedules and leveraging larger aircraft to give customers more ways to reunite with family or reach their destinations.”
There are no new routes as part of this announcement. Instead, expect to see additional hub-to-hub flights and some uptick in service to busier spokes on the route network.
When To Purchase Holiday Airfare In 2020
Like much of 2020, it is best to throw conventional wisdom out the window. Buying fares at least three weeks in advance may no longer be the smartest way to shop for holiday airfare. With close-in increases in supply, it would not surprise me to see attractive revenue and mileage deals at the last-minute this year.
My rule remains to check early and check often: if you see an attractive price, book it. But if prices are already sky-high, they may well come down this year…that’s a risk I’d be more comfortable taking in 2020 than ever before, even with the possibility of prices rising even higher or flights selling out.
United Airlines also hints we may see more last-minute flight additions in December as well. Welcome to the new reality, in which advance planning even for domestic travel may no longer be attractive.
Will you be traveling for Thanksgiving this year? Have you booked your airfare yet?