Thanksgiving kicks off the busy holiday travel season each year. Many people are so desperate to get to where they need to be for Thanksgiving that they don't pay much attention to how much the price of tickets vacillates during the last two weeks in November. Do you travel during Thanksgiving week every year?

If you're simply using what you paid last year to estimate what you can expect to pay this year, you might be in for a big surprise. Thanksgiving fares actually go up and down quite a bit depending on the parts of the country you'll be traveling to and from.

What Determines Price Changes For Flights During The Holidays?

Competition is essentially the final factor when it comes to how much airlines charge for tickets during the busy holiday travel season. All four major airlines in the United States carefully calculate fares to entice travelers. In addition, airlines will raise fares if the demand for flights to certain cities is exceptionally high.

The public already knows that the four major carriers in the country are locked in an ongoing battle to earn customer loyalty. Discount carriers are also giving big airlines reasons to sweat. People trying to visit family, college kids returning home for the holidays and couples looking to get away to exotic locations during time off from work are all interested in finding the cheapest tickets possible.

Many of these travelers will sacrifice luxuries and comforts for the sake of getting the cheapest seat. These are the travelers that major airlines are working hard to court during the busy travel period around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Cities With Price Decreases In 2016

The good news for travelers during this busy holiday season is that many cities that are major hubs for travel are actually offering lower fares in 2016. Costs for flights to and from Minneapolis, Cleveland, Chicago, Boston and Indianapolis have decreased anywhere between 10 percent and 15 percent from 2015.

Cities With Price Increases In 2016

While it's cheaper to travel to some cities in 2016, the opposite is true for other cities. The cost to travel to and from Philadelphia in 2016 is up by 11 percent for airline passengers. Houston's rates are up by 6 percent.

How You Can Avoid the Hassle Of Comparison Shopping

Comparison shopping to find the cheapest tickets possible is great for travelers who only make big trips during the holiday season. It's definitely worth it to take some time to research available flights and compare price between all of the carriers that serve the cities you'll be traveling between.

However, the task of keeping an eye out for cheap flights isn't for everyone. One of the best ways to avoid the hassle of digging for deals is to sign up for a loyalty program with an airline that doesn't have blackout dates during the holiday season, such as American Airlines' AAdvantage® Program.

If you travel frequently for business or personal reasons throughout the year, you may actually be able to use your acquired miles to travel for free during the holidays. What's more, many loyalty programs, for instance Delta's SkyMiles® Frequent Flyer Program, actually allow you to transfer miles to other people. This means you might even be able to help family members visit you for free this year.