How to Save When Booking Your Flights for Every Major Holiday
With Christmas and New Years fast approaching, most of us are eagerly eyeing holiday flights to get us home in time to celebrate with our families. But those high flight prices may make you stop and reconsider – the holidays are one of the busiest travel periods in the year. And those prices are likely not to drop any time soon – due to the rising costs of fuel – and travel booking site Hopper has found that ticket prices will climb with each passing week.
You shouldn’t have to trade off seeing your family or paying your bills. Our guide below will tell you when is the best time to buy airline tickets, especially for the upcoming holiday flights. We’ve covered 8 of the most popular holidays for travel, and when you should be booking flights.
The prime booking window for your Thanksgiving flight is in September, as flight prices tend to jump in October. After September 17, flight prices tend to increase. The most expensive day to depart is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the most expensive day to return is the Sunday after the holiday. Travelers are better off flying out early (Monday or Tuesday before turkey day), and coming back late (Tuesday after Thanksgiving).
The best time to buy Christmas flights is mid-October, where you can save up to 25% off your holiday flight on domestic flights. Cheap flights can also be found in mid-December, but it’s a roll of the dice whether these deals show up. Your best bet for Christmas travel is to plan early and book the airline tickets early too. Flying in off-peak times will also benefit your wallet.
New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day
Similar to Christmas holiday, travelers can benefit by booking in October, up to 8 weeks before their planned departure. Flying on the holiday itself can save you up to 20% on domestic flights, as most people prefer to arrive at their destination before the holiday.
Looking for a way to really wow your significant other? A romantic getaway becomes a lot more feasible if you book your trip early. While the earliest savings can be found in mid-December, the best deals are found in the first week of January. Along with some roses or chocolates, you have a perfect and easy Valentine’s Day planned.
Easter will be on Sunday, April 21st in 2019. For a trip home for the Easter long weekend, the cheapest time to book your flights will be at least 6 weeks before departure. So for 2019, your best bet is to book your flight in mid-March.
For the Memorial Day long weekend, you don’t have to book as early compared to other holidays. Deals can still be found 3 weeks before departure, so booking in late April or early May will maximize your Memorial Day savings.
What better way is there to celebrate America's birthday on the fourth of July if not by traveling across our great country? Booking the flight in late May can get you savings of up to 10% on domestic flights, but we really recommend buying at least 3 weeks before departure. This year, you can put your savings toward bigger and better fireworks!
Say goodbye to summer with a last minute vacation! Booking flights for these travel dates should be done at least 3 weeks before you depart, with your best savings found in mid-June. Soak up the summer rays for the last time before fall comes.
Other Travel Tips
Now that you know when is the best time to book your holiday flights, here are some more tips to help you get the most bang for your buck during your travels:
Book early (in the morning)
Prices tend to drop for less popular travel times, such as a red-eye flight or a flight with layovers, compared to a mid-day flight. If you are willing to forgo some hours of sleep, this is a great alternative which helps your wallet and reduces travel stress. In addition, delays are less likely early in the morning and will also help you to avoid the holiday crowds.
Travel on off-peak days and times
The best day to fly is often right on the holiday. If that isn’t possible, the best days of the week to fly are weekdays, with weekend flights often more expensive. In addition, consider arriving at your destination early or delaying your return by a week as flight prices will often drop the week after a major holiday.
Consider alternative airports
Consider using less popular or well-known airports in your area, as these airports generally have lower fees for airlines, which can translate into lower rates for flights. These smaller regional airports may be less convenient to get to but can make a big difference to your flight prices, especially for domestic flights.
Don’t forget about hidden fees
Booking a plane ticket is not always the only fee you need to pay, depending on which airline your flight is with. Hidden fees such as baggage fees and food purchases can cut into the savings of a flight deal. Make sure you are comparing the total fees between two airlines, not just the price of the plane ticket, to ensure you are picking the right flight.
Check your flight status before you leave
With holiday travels coming up, the weather also becomes more unpredictable. You never know when a sudden winter storm can delay or cancel your planned flight. Make sure you check the status of your flight before heading out, so you are not stranded at the airport.
Set up alerts so you don’t miss a great deal
Setting up fare alerts is the best way to take advantage of any flight deals which pop up. However, the key to taking advantage of flight deals is to be flexible on timing and dates. Apps such as Skyscanner, Hopper and even Google Flights can set up fare alerts so you are notified every time a desired route’s prices drop so you can book quickly.
Get comfortable! Find an airport lounge near you
Use LoungeBuddy to access hundreds of lounges at airports worldwide. Lounges are perfect for relaxing and escaping from the stresses of travel. Whether it be freshening up after a red-eye or relaxing before your flight, there’s no better way to travel during the holidays.
In terms of holiday travel, the early bird does get the worm – or at least, a reasonably priced flight back home to see your loved ones.