Why You Should Book Your Thanksgiving Flights Two Months in Advance


If you're planning to head home for Thanksgiving this year, you'd better book your flights quickly. As Condé Nast Traveler points out, there's a small window when holiday airfare is at its cheapest, and once that window closes, prices start to soar.

Google analyzed price trends from this year and last year to help travelers figure out the best time to book their flights. While pricing varies depending on where you live and the exact dates you want to fly, early September is generally "the sweet spot for booking your Thanksgiving travel," Thijs van As, product manager for Google Flights, tells Condé Nast Traveler.

To illustrate this point, Google's Flight Price Trends tool includes a graph showing how flight prices fluctuate depending on when they're purchased. If you live in one of the major origin cities that Google included in the tool—Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, or Washington, D.C.—you can head to the website and see for yourself when you should snag a plane seat.

A separate Google tool for mobile devices, called Thanksgiving Prices, provides additional information on whether airfare prices are "low," "typical," or "high," and whether they're expected to go up.

Last year, Thanksgiving flights were cheapest when purchased around mid-September, according to Patrick Surry, chief data scientist for the price-tracker app Hopper. And the longer you wait, the more you'll have to pay.

"If you wait until early November, it will cost you about $2 per day you wait," Surry tells CNBC. "In the final two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, prices begin spiking by $5 per day."

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]