The expensive holiday travel season has almost arrived. Between travel, gift giving, higher heat and electric bills and other expenses, the cold months can quickly empty the bank account. We can live frugally all year, and pile up our pennies, but all it takes is a few weeks during the holiday season to wipe out the progress. This is the best avenue to airfare savings for this holiday season.
According to Patrick Surry of Hopper.com, the best time to book a Christmas flight is around 80 days before the holiday. We may have already missed that window, but the quicker you can book, the cheaper it will be for Christmas.
Rest assured that you’re not alone. According to Hopper, only 61 percent of consumers had searched for Thanksgiving flights by November 1. You may have already missed the window on the best priced flights, but you can still act now and limit the damage of procrastination.
According to Surry, for both Christmas and Thanksgiving airfare the price is expected to rise by around $1.50 per day for each day you wait before the holiday in the next few weeks. As the holidays approach, the increase gets more steep and eventually spikes the week before the holiday. If you think waiting until the last minute will get you a good deal, think again.
“If you wait to book your flight until after Halloween, it will cost you about $1.50 per day you wait, and then prices start rising about $6 per day in the last ten days before departure,” said Surry.
In addition to the day you book, the day you book for plays an obvious role, according to Surry.
“If you want to score a bargain, traveling on Thanksgiving day is the cheapest option,” the analyst says. “The next best option is to depart on Monday, Nov. 21st and returning Friday, Nov. 25th. You’ll save about 20% over the most popular dates.”
Christmas shows a similar trend in airfare pricing, with a steady rise of $1.50 per day leading into the holiday, and a drastic spike the week before. The ideal time to book is around 80 days prior to departure. If you haven’t booked yet, however, don’t book today. It’s better to set an alert on the flight you want and wait for a good deal while monitoring the price. If you see a steady increase in the pricing and no real negative fluctuation, it’s best to bite the bullet and book.
Similarly to Thanksgiving travel, if you’re able to adjust your schedule and fly on any of the major holidays, including Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years your bank account will thank you.
“The next best option is to leave Tuesday, December 20, and return Thursday, January 5,” according to Surry.