If you’ve put off buying your airline ticket for Christmas or New Years until now, or if you just decided a vacation is in the cards for December 2017, is there any hope for finding a reasonably priced ticket? Follow our tips to grab a reasonable flight even at the 11th hour.

christmas flights

1. Not every travel day is created equal
A quick look at the calendar on our Holiday Flights page shows that there are better value days to fly than others. For example, if you must travel during Christmas week, this year it’s most economical to fly on Sunday, the 24th or even on Christmas day!

christmas air travel calendar

Let’s look at a Phoenix to Denver itinerary. If you fly PHX to Den on Friday, Dec 22 (a popular travel day this year) and return home on Tuesday, Dec 26 you can expect to pay around $300 for a nonstop flight on United. Now let’s get a little creative with your outbound flight. If you’re willing to fly out early on Christmas morning on a nonstop flight with Spirit and home on Friday Dec 29 you can catch a flight for just $150. That’s half price if you book today, Dec 6. If you take an evening flight on Christmas Eve, the savings are even greater- the flight is just $129 round trip.

2. Mix and Match
Sometimes the best fare available to travelers is when you fly outbound on one airline and home on another! CheapAir.com actually does this work for you and offers a feature that pulls the cheapest itinerary together for you wherever you’re going. Just do a simple search to see how this works!

3. Be as Flexible as Possible
The key to a last minute deal is often checking your “deal breaker” items at the door. We get it. You like to fly nonstop. Us too! But last minute nonstop bargains are not always available, especially if you’re looking at flights inside of two weeks. More apt to be reasonably priced at the last minute? That’s right, connecting flights.

4. Lose the bags
Some of the low cost air carriers like Spirit and Frontier are still offering budget fares. Just know that you get charged for everything but your seat itself (yes, that includes seat assignments too!) when you’re flying a la carte and plan accordingly. We encourage people to fly as lightly as you can especially during the holidays anyway because your bags can’t get lost when you’ve got them with you and you’re a lean, mean, less stressed flying machine when you’re not schlepping a bunch of luggage around the airport. Just make sure to do an apples to apples comparison when you’re comparing flight prices and know what you’re getting if you decide to fly with a budget carrier. That way you’ll have no nasty and costly surprises on your travel day.

5. Skip New Years Day Travel
This year, New Years falls on a Monday, so there are a lot of people ponying up the cash to fly home on Jan 1 just so they can be back in the office on Tuesday, Jan 2. Don’t be one of those people unless your main concern is not ticket price. Tuesday, Jan 2 is a slightly less expensive travel day than Jan 1 this year, but for the real deals fly home on the 3rd or 4th.

One more thought. If you find yourself in a pinch and needing a last minute fare that just seems too cost prohibitive no matter how you slice it – check out our monthly payments option. While not always a fit for everyone, it is a good option for some. Monthly payments allows you to spread your payments out over a few months rather than coming out of pocket all at once.

Happy holidays and happy travels!

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