Why You Should Book Your Holiday Travel Now

Kip Tips

Why You Should Book Your Holiday Travel Now

Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares will only go up from here, so use these strategies to find an affordable flight fast.

If you think holding off on buying airline tickets for the holidays will help you score a last-minute deal, think again. Flights for Thanksgiving travel already are about 49% more expensive than the rest of the year, says CheapAir.com CEO Jeff Klee. And fares will almost certainly rise from this point until Thanksgiving and Christmas. So how do avoid paying an outrageous amount to get home for the holidays? Follow these strategies.

SEE ALSO: When to Book Flights to Get the Lowest Fares

Book flights by October 1. Airfare for holiday travel has been edging up slightly since Labor Day, says Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. But prices will likely jump by as much as 20% in October. So buy your tickets by September 30 to save money. Because you have a few more days until the end of the month, set up a fare alert with a site such as Airfarewatchdog.com or Kayak.com to be notified if the price drops on a flight you want to take. Typically airlines have sales on Tuesdays, so you might see a slight drop the last day of September, which falls on a Tuesday, she says. Be ready to buy if you see any drop in price. But be prepared to purchase tickets by September 30 even if a deal doesn’t surface because prices in all likelihood will only increase.

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Consider alternate travel dates. The busiest travel day of the year is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Banas and Klee say. The next busiest is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Because demand for airplane seats is so high on those days, the prices are much higher than on other days. So you can save a lot by flying the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving and returning Friday or Saturday. For both Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can save hundreds of dollars by flying on the actual holidays, Banas says. Another option is to plan your gathering during the first two weeks of December or the first week of January, which are the slowest weeks of the year for air travel, Banas says. See the CheapAir.com calendar for the best days to fly for the holidays. And you can use a flexible search option on travel booking sites, such as the one at Bing Travel, to see which days have the best fares.

Consider alternate airports. Check fares on flights to all the airports near your destination because you might find it’s significantly cheaper to fly to one than another, Klee says. A search on Kayak.com showed that the average price of a roundtrip flight from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Los Angeles International Airport was $512 leaving November 25 and returning November 29 versus $560, on average, for the same route departing from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport.


Buy tickets for family members separately. Unlike other industries that give you a discount for buying in bulk, airlines don’t cut you a deal if you buy several tickets for the same flight at one time. In fact, you might pay more if you’re traveling with several family members or friends and purchase all of your tickets during one transaction, Klee says. Airlines typically quote prices based on the lowest fare available for your entire party. So if you’re a party of five, for example, and there are only three seats available at a $200 price level but five seats are available for $300, you’ll be quoted the $300 fare for all five tickets, he says. Book each ticket separately to take advantage of the seats that might be available at a lower price.

Don’t rush to book a hotel room. Although flights fill up quickly around the holidays, hotels do not because travelers tend to stay with family over Thanksgiving and Christmas, Banas says. As a result, hotels are more likely to offer last-minute discounts to fill rooms around the holidays. You can use a mobile app, such as Last Minute Travel, to get a deal on a room. Or if you don’t like the idea of waiting until the last minute, book your room using Tingo, which will automatically re-book your room at a lower rate if the hotel drops its price. Then you'll get a refund for the difference.