With Thanksgiving Day less than three weeks away, Fort Lauderdale is emerging as one of top travel destinations for the holiday in 2013, according to at least two travel websites.
With an average round-trip airfare of $335, Fort Lauderdale recently made CheapOair.com's top 10 booked destinations list for Thanksgiving this year. Hotwire.com also listed Fort Lauderdale as one of the warmer beach destinations for travelers to find deep airfare discounts for both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.
Some 25.1 million passengers are expected to fly on U.S. airlines globally for the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday period Nov. 22 through Dec. 3, trade group Airlines for America (A4A) announced Thursday. That's up 1.5 percent from the 2012 period.
There's also an added bonus for travelers this year – 2 percent more airline seats during the holiday period, A4A said.
All this bodes well for holiday traffic at South Florida airports, especially Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Palm Beach International, which traditionally are among the cheapest nationally to fly to and from, according to federal transportation data.
Last year, more than 500,000 passengers were expected to travel through the Fort Lauderdale airport and nearly 53,000 through its West Palm Beach counterpart for the Thanksgiving holiday period.
New routes slated to launch ahead of Thanksgiving are also poised to boost airport traffic.
Among them, JetBlue Airways' daily Fort Lauderdale to Worcester, Mass., non-stop flight, which launched Thursday, and its Lima, Peru route slated to begin Nov. 20. At Palm Beach International officials will celebrate American Airlines new nonstop service to Los Angeles Nov. 21.
But if you're planning to jet away this holiday and haven't booked airfare yet, there are still some avenues to explore to find savings, experts say.
"The key to finding good deals on Thanksgiving travel is to be flexible," said Mark Drusch, a CheapOair executive, noting that travelers can use its flight search technology to compare options. "This will help travelers to enjoy their holiday by paying a price that suits their budget."
Travelers should also avoid the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday after, as these are the most expensive days to travel, Hotwire advised. And flying early Thanksgiving Day and returning Saturday after the holiday will offer the biggest savings.
As for hotel accommodations, while rates are up about three percent this year nationally, lower per-night rates may be available for a Thursday-Saturday stay, than for Friday-Sunday, according to Hotwire. Also hotel prices could drop closer to the holiday if rooms aren't selling as anticipated.
"The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for travel, and though many expect to see peak prices, there are still ways to travel and places to go that will offer great bargains this Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Henrik Kjellberg, president of the Hotwire Group, in a statement.
Others like the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa are offering a special holiday getaway rate for Thanksgiving week for $309 per night, double occupancy. That rate includes a $50 daily resort credit or $200 credit for a 4-night stay and can be booked on their website.
By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel
For more great hotel specials, visit our Special Offers page