Let this year be the year when you finally stop procrastinating on holiday travel
These savings will have you flying.
The week of September 25th is a great week to book holiday airfare if you want to save money, according to data released by airfare comparison site Hipmunk. Their analysis found that you can save up to 27% on Thanksgiving airfare and up to 38% on Christmas airfare by booking the week of September 25th.
If you forget to do it this week, don’t despair: October is also a decent time to book. Airfare research site Hopper notes that October prices are fairly stable for Thanksgiving travel, but “if you wait until early November to book your flight, it will cost you about $1 per day you wait. Then prices begin spiking by $10 per day during the final two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.”
And for Christmas travel Hopper notes, “around Thanksgiving time, holiday airfare will begin rising by $4 per day you wait. In the final two weeks leading up to Christmas, flight prices will spike by $7 per day.”
Of course, some of this timing depends on the route you’re taking, but in general, booking in late September and October are going to be your best bets for holiday travel. And here are other great ways to save on holiday airfare.
Price one-ways flights and search surrounding airports.
“Before you search exclusively for round-trip tickets, price one-way tickets from multiple carriers to see if you can get a better deal. This strategy also enables you to apply reward miles to one leg of the trip if you don’t have enough to cover the cost of a round-trip ticket.” says savings expert Andrea Woroch.
Look into alternative airports.
Kelly Soderlund, a spokesperson for Hipmunk, says this is a great way to save. “For instance, if you’re in the Bay Area, consider flying into Oakland rather than SFO,” she says. Adds Clem Bason, the former president of Hotwire.com and current CEO of goSeek, “when searching, use codes that take into account all airports in a region not just one (e.g., “NYC” for New York and “CHI” for Chicago) to find the best prices.”
Know when to depart and return.
Holiday travel is cheaper on some days than others. Data from Hopper shows that “The busiest and most expensive day to depart is Wednesday, November 22. You can save $54 by departing on Thanksgiving morning or you can save $48 by departing on Monday, November 20th.” For returns, the busiest and most expensive day is Sunday, November 26; you can save $161
by returning on Wednesday, November 29th instead, Hopper notes.
There are also good and bad days for Christmas flying, according to Hopper: “The
cheapest days to depart are Saturday, December 16 or Tuesday, December 19. Traveling on
these dates will save you $110 compared to traveling on the busiest day, Friday, December 22.” Meanwhile, the cheapest day to return is Thursday, January 4th, which will save you $97
compared to traveling on New Year’s Day, which is the most popular return date.
Set fare alerts.
Flight prices change all the time, so Soderlund recommends you set a fare alert for the route you want. Sites like Kayak, Google Flights and Hipmunk all have fare alert features.
Ship gifts to your final destination.
“Consider shopping online and sending packages directly to your final destination to dodge those pesky baggage fees,” says Woroch. “Otherwise, order online and select to pick up the gift at the store located at your destination.”
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