Sure, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. But the extended holiday weekend also is a time for some serious retail therapy, especially on discounted travel.
Starting with Black Friday and continuing through the weekend into Cyber Monday, the long weekend has become one of the most popular stretches for Americans to purchase travel online.
What are shoppers angling to buy? Here’s a look at some of the deals that are likely to pique interest.
Flights for less
One of the biggest areas for Thanksgiving-weekend savings: Flights. Across the industry, air carriers of every size offer discounts that would tickle just about every wallet.
The best day to score a flight deal: Tuesday, November 27, according to Hopper, an app that uses data to predict and track airfares. Some companies have billed the day as “Travel Deal Tuesday.” Of course, deals are expected to be available throughout the weekend, as well.
Some of these promotions translate into rock-bottom one-way, cross-Atlantic flights. Others mean 20% or 30% discounts across the board.
RyanAir, the low-cost Irish airline, has published flights from Dublin to other major European cities as low as $6 a pop. Delta is offering a variety of round-trip savings, including tickets from New York to Portugal for less than $700.
Cathay Pacific is getting into the act, publishing deals that ultimately would save passengers upward of 60% on trips to Asia from the mainland United States. Still more discounts were expected later this week.
As appealing as these offers might sound, it’s always important to read the fine print.
Chris McGinnis, editor of the TravelSkills blog on SFGate in San Francisco, said many deals limit travel times, meaning the opportunities are only truly appealing if travelers don’t care when they go or return.
“Don’t think you’re going to Cyber Monday your way into a cheap peak holiday season airfare; they don’t exist when the economy is strong and travel demand is up,” he said. Instead, McGinnis said “it’s most common to find really good deals for trips during the first few weeks of December and January,” when travel generally is slow.
Marking down hotels
Airlines aren’t the only travel suppliers slashing prices on products this weekend; hotels are getting in on the act, too.
Hotels.com, an online booking site, is offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday electronic scratch-off mystery coupons that could yield from 7-10% savings, or, in more than 250 lucky cases, 99% off hotel room bookings through the end of the year.
The promotion, available directly from the Hotels.com homepage starting at 12 a.m. Friday, runs through the end of the day Monday.
Other deals abound elsewhere in the industry. Virgin Hotels, for instance, is offering 30% off all bookings made now through Monday, November 26. The deal applies only to the Chicago and San Francisco properties, and only applies to travel through April 30. As a bonus, all customers who take advantage of the deal will be entered to win a free upgrade to the penthouse flat — the best suite in each hotel. (This part of the promo has a hashtag: #pentup.)
Peninsula Hotels has touted 30% discounts as well, at properties in New York, Chicago and Beverly Hills. Those savings are available exclusively online starting at 12 a.m. ET on Black Friday through 11:59 p.m. ET on Cyber Monday.
In Central Florida, the soon-to-open Margaritaville Resort Orlando is going fins-up with half-off discounts on (just about) all suites, and 35% off all other rooms. The resort is expected to open in January and travel must be completed by March 31.
Finally, guests who book two nights at Sea Island Resort during the Thanksgiving weekend can get a third night for 71% off — a nod to the 71˚ average regional temperature in winter. Discounted rates at this five-star resort on the Georgia coast include golf with a pro and complimentary breakfast for two. Travel must be completed by the end of February.
Internationally the deals are just as appealing.
The Banyan Tree Bangkok, for instance, is giving 30% off the best available rates on one-bedroom suites with club access — a sweet deal considering the concierge floor offers multiple food presentations daily.
In London, the uber-hip Curtain Hotel & Members Club in the Shoreditch neighborhood is offering 20% discounts on trips booked during Thanksgiving weekend, but travelers must pay in full at the time of booking.
Seven Stars Resort & Spa on Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos is getting in on the discount party, too, offering up to 40% off all bookings between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Thanksgiving holiday promotions are great opportunities to save big bucks on travel to specific destinations.
Take Orlando, for example. Visit Orlando, the official tourism association for the destination, runs the website OrlandoTickets.com, and is offering 10% off all theme park tickets purchased over the holiday weekend.
In addition, the organization has lined up a host of other savings, such as $30 off on flexible-date tickets to Walt Disney World Resort; two extra days of admission to Universal Studios Florida with the purchase of a 3-park, 2-day Park-to-Park ticket; two days for the price of one with the purchase of a 2-day, 2-park ticket to Sea World; and a second-day free at Legoland Florida.
In Virginia, at Colonial Williamsburg, travelers can get 40% off stays at any of the five official hotels — the Williamsburg Inn, the Williamsburg Lodge, Colonial Houses, the Griffin Hotel and the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites — as well as savings of up to 25% in destination stores through close of business Tuesday, November 27.
Other travel deals
Still other travel suppliers are honoring Black Friday and Cyber Monday with discounts on different kinds of products.
REI Adventures is getting into the deal game as well. The outfit offers guided tours in conjunction with its chain of retail stores, and it has published discount prices for treks to the Greek Islands, the Great Smoky Mountains and more.
This promo is newsworthy because it almost never happens; generally speaking, REI is hesitant to discount its trips. (REI also is offering a 30% Cyber Monday discount on classes and events.)
Outfitter G Adventures is throwing down discounts, too — savings of up to 35% on more than 500 different tours, including hiking in Switzerland, winter festival-hopping in Japan, cycling in Vietnam and pampering in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
Some cruise companies are dishing out special benefits. Viking River Cruises, for instance, is giving customers free airfare on select sailings — a savings of as much as $599 per passenger.
Princess Cruises, on the other hand, is offering travelers free stateroom location upgrade, free gratuities for up to four guests, and up to $800 in free on-board spending credit per stateroom.
Barge cruise line European Waterways unveiled a limited-time Black Friday special of 30% off select 6-night, all-inclusive, whole-boat hotel barge charters for spring of 2019 — a potential savings of nearly $18,000. Eligible tours sail through France and Scotland.
Elsewhere in Europe, Holiday Vacations is offering a Cyber Monday savings of $500 per person for travelers who book the 11-day English Masterpiece tour. The tour stops at Stonehenge, Hampton Court Palace and Highclere Castle, the backdrop for the beloved show “Downton Abbey.”
Perhaps no Cyber Monday package anywhere packs as much value as the one from Miraval Arizona, a destination spa in Tucson.
At last check, the promo included $825 in resort credit per person based on a three-night stay, plus an additional $275 in resort credit per person for each additional night and 15% off spa retail purchases.
The resort offers casita-style accommodations and stays are inclusive of all meals, shuttle transfers and more.
Lisa Meisner, a travel agent based in Healdsburg, California, sells Miraval experiences to her clients, and deemed the Cyber Monday package a “steal.”
Meisner added that because her firm is an affiliate of Virtuoso travel, she can tack on $100 to the $825 resort credit for those who book through her, bringing it to $925.
“I love to see travel deals that offer the chance to gift yourself or loved ones amazing life experiences,” Meisner says. “What a wonderful fitness and mind/body reboot to look forward to after the holidays.”