We’ve been studying Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year airfares for years here at CheapAir.com, and we publish a Holiday Flights Report each year to help you choose the most affordable dates for inexpensive holiday flights.
Here are a few reasons we think you should be thinking about buying your tickets home for the holidays right now – before the end of summer!
Trust the data.
We’ve been tracking holiday flights for years and one thing we know for sure: the numbers don’t lie. Our data indicates year over year that fares for Thanksgiving start a steady climb in late summer and do not tend to go down. When you wait to get the “best airfare” as a strategy, it sometimes works. When you wait to get the best airfare for the holidays as a strategy, it can often backfire. Don’t wait. We’ve crunched the numbers for you – trust the data nerds to save money!
Options, options, options.
If you’re the kind of person who generally prefers to keep your options open or you’re particular about preferences when traveling, waiting until later to buy your holiday flights will likely be disappointing. Here’s why. When the airline first publishes fares (a full 11 months out from travel dates), a certain number of folks will buy right away and snap up some of the most attractive seats and flight times. Buying around 3.5 to 6 months out (where we are right now) will still give you plenty of options. The people who purchase their tickets in this window tend to pay about $20 more per ticket than those folks who wait for the lowest fares later in the year. But that $20 may seem well worth it if it buys you out of a cramped center seat, or gets you a nonstop flight over a connecting flight with a 4 hour layover in an airport with notorious holiday weather delays.
Stress less, buy now.
There’s also something to be said for just making a commitment and being done with the endless searching you may do all in the service of getting the “best” fare. We always recommend to customers that they let go of the mindset that you’re some kind of travel failure if you haven’t gotten the rock-bottom price for an airfare. One very good reason that we’ve already detailed above is that there is a value to have options when you’re buying an airline ticket. The average airline ticket’s price changes so many times that you can quickly get into a “should I or shouldn’t I” anxiety spiral, and it can be near impossible to know when the BEST price will be. Trust us – we study this stuff! A better, less angst-y way to shop is to aim for a “good” price, and you can be reasonably sure you’re getting a good price just by watching airfares for a few weeks and then buying when you see a dip in price. If the fare doesn’t dip, but starts incremental bumps higher, that is a pattern as well. Once a fare starts a steady climb, it very rarely turns around.
Protect the price you paid.
When you buy your holiday airline tickets on the early side with CheapAir.com, you can rest assured that you’ve also bought a little built-in price protection. You see, we offer a feature with every ticket that you just can’t get anywhere else online. If your flight should get cheaper after you’ve bought your ticket, we will pay you back up to $100. It’s as simple as that. Anxiety that the flight might get cheaper after you buy can be set aside with you safe in the knowledge that if that happens, we’ll pay you back in the form of a credit for future travel. That’s why we call this nifty feature Price Drop Payback.
Buying early might help you avoid flight delays.
Early-morning flights and late-night flights are also often priced better than those at peak travel times (8–10 a.m. and 5–7 p.m.). When those flights sell out, they’re gone! During the very busy holiday season when flight delays are commonplace, if you can swing it you should try to be on one of those early-morning flights. They are much more likely to be on time than the flights at the end of the day, when weather and mechanical problems can start to cause a domino effect of delays in the airport and even sometimes around the rest of the country. Early-morning flights have the best on-time records. You heard it here.
Holiday flights just cost more – Have realistic expectations for shopping success.
Here’s the bad news when it comes to holiday prices. They start off higher than other times of year. That’s why when people say to us, “I don’t know why this ticket is $400. The last time I went to New York I paid only $250,” the first question we have is, “Were you comparing apples to apples?” If your last jaunt to the Big Apple was in October and not Christmas week, that’s the issue. Holiday prices are usually 20–30% higher on their publication date than other, less busy travel times of the year. Wishing that the fares were lower will not make them so, and waiting for them to go down is not a great gamble. When the lowest fares available (a handful on every flight) sell out, you can expect to pay even more. Just plan to pay a bit more and buy early to get the best available fares. Done and done!
Consult our calendar to see which specific dates are the most inexpensive to fly for the holidays.