5 tips for 2017 holiday air travel, including why you should book now
Booking flights 54 days before your trip will generally give you the best price, according to CheapAir.com‘s annual airfare study. However, traveling during the holiday season can be an entirely different game.
Flights around Thanksgiving and Christmas can cost as much as 75 percent more than non-holiday flights. So when is the best time to buy? Here are some tips from the experts.
1. When to book
According to airfare prediction app Hopper, waiting until October, which falls within the 54-day rule, to book your flights for Thanksgiving won’t cost you much extra as long as you book before the week of Halloween. Once November hits, prices will begin rising by about $1 per day. That changes to $10 per day during the two weeks before Thanksgiving, according to Hopper’s 2017 holiday travel index.
When it comes to Christmas flights, however, Hopper says its data suggests booking about 83 days before departure, which was the first week of October.
Travel site Orbitz disagrees. It lists Oct. 20 as the day on which travelers might find the best deals for Christmas flights. To save the most money, Orbitz recommends booking your Thanksgiving flights on Thursday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 4 for New Year’s Eve flights.
2. Thanksgiving: The best and worst days to fly
The most expensive — and busiest — day to depart for Thanksgiving is Wednesday, Nov. 22, according to Hopper. When returning home, try to avoid the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Hopper says you can save $161 by returning home on Wednesday instead.
CheapAir.com suggests departing Nov. 19-20 and returning on the Friday or Saturday following Thanksgiving for the best deals.
3. Christmas: The best and worst days to fly
Hopper recommends being flexible in order to the have the best experience flying over Christmas. The least expensive days for departures fall on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Tuesday, Dec. 19. Compared to the most expensive departure date — Friday, Dec. 22 — traveling on those dates could save about $110. Thursday, Jan. 4, is the cheapest day for return flights. It will save about $97 compared to traveling on New Year’s Day, the most popular day for returns.
4. Be prepared to spend more than last year
The average price for a round-trip domestic flight for Thanksgiving is currently $325, according to Hopper. Last year is was $288.
5. Look beyond the price tag
While cost is likely the biggest concern for many travelers, Airfare Watchdog president George Hobica suggests considering other factors, such as comfort and convenience.
“The sooner you book the more likely you’ll get your aisle seat and sit next to your friends or love ones,” he said. “The later you book it’ll be a middle seat on the 5:30 a.m. departure or the connecting red eye flight.”