The Most Expensive Days to Fly This Christmas and New Years

If you’re planning to fly for the holidays, we urge you to purchase your airline tickets soon. Buying early can save you a lot of money. To help you make those important flight decisions, we’d like to share the most expensive days to fly as well as some tips for saving money on holiday flights.

holiday air travel

The day you travel can save or cost you money. Some days are more expensive because they’re popular travel days. It’s all about supply and demand. We know this because every year we crunch the data by tracking 11,000 popular holiday itineraries to come up with our Holiday Flight Report. This year, the Friday before Christmas (December 22) has the most expensive flights for outbound travel. Going home, the most expensive days to fly this year are the day after Christmas (Tuesday, December 26) and New Years Day (it falls on a Monday).  If you must fly on any of these premium priced days, the earlier you can buy the better to secure a decent price. If you do wait until late in the year to book, Christmas Day flights are usually available and relatively inexpensive (as compared to the cost for flights the day before Christmas). And as a bonus? Less crowded airports!

christmas flight calendar 2017


Christmas Flights & New Years Flights
Another important takeaway from our Holiday Flight Report is that delaying your purchase can be a costly calculus if you’re not careful. Christmas and New Year’s flights are quite simply less expensive when you buy early. If you buy in October, you’ll likely pay $5 more, in November $56 more, and in December a distressing $143 more per ticket.

What happens if you wait? You can still get a holiday airline ticket, but there are a couple of consequences. Not only does waiting mean you’re paying more, but you’re also going to be facing fewer flight choices. As we get closer to the holidays, the most attractive itineraries with good connection times start to fill up leaving procrastinators with what’s essentially the leftovers of the early bird shoppers. You might still be able to get that great itinerary, but you’ll pay a premium for it as seats on that flight sell out. More often, the budget traveler is left with less convenient flights at more expensive prices that they could have avoided had they just bought a bit earlier.

So that’s it. Purchase your holiday flights now to save yourself more money later. And don’t forget to research the day you plan to fly because not all days are priced the same (and some are much more expensive). If you’re not married to the most popular travel days, you can shave off some additional dollars.

Search Cheap Holiday Flights



    1. Hi Antonieta, The airlines publish fares almost exactly 11 months prior to any set of dates. So you can’t even start searching for fares until January 2019. However, to give yourself a good idea of what the fares might be you should watch the fares next Christmas. Puerto Rico is a bit of a wildcard right now due to the current situation there, so it’s hard to predict with any certainty what the fares might be for 2019. We always suggest people buy flights for the holidays earlier than you might for any other time of the year – so keep that in mind as well. As we get closer to your dates, check back in with us. We might be able to give you more personalized advice at that point.

    2. I have been looking at flights for December holiday flights to Mexico- I honestly think it’s too early to purchase ? I am looking at things and I am thinking 6 months out is a good time ? I think airlines keep flights inflated too far out ? is that correct ? Has anyone experience that – currently the flight that I want is $1,000 – ? I am thinking this will go down in the next 2 or 3 months ?

      1. Hi Diane, This year is a little trickier than normal to predict since Mexico is seeing some increased leisure travel numbers due to some residual hurricane traffic (people who normally go some destinations in the Caribbean that suffered severe damage are still having to explore other options, and Mexico is a popular choice). Because of this phenomena this year, I’d be a little cautious in suggesting that you wait to buy. I’m not sure what specific dates you’re considering, but Christmas week and New Years week are not often discounted (and they’re priced at a premium straight out of the gate due to popularity). We always recommend buying earlier than you think you ought to for Christmas travel.

  1. Usually flights to Vegas are cheap but I’m going to be there December 29- January 1 $450-$550 that’s nuts. We might just rent a car and drive 1,300+ miles

    1. Hi Ana, If you’re planning a trip to Brazil over Christmas week you should start shopping now. Don’t delay! Some of the lowest fares are already probably gone. If you’re looking for early December, you still have ample time to research and shop.

  2. Me and my son are planning to fly to Chicago O’Hare for Christmas from SNA….Would flying on Christmas Day be that much cheaper then Dec. 22; 23rd? Prices seem pretty expensive ON Christmas day?. We’re planning on coming back Dec 29 or 30….

    HELP ! Need reliable Advice ASAP…..Thanks ?

    1. Hi Peg, It looks like flying on Christmas day will shave an extra $50 each off your tickets if you fly back on the 30th. Those are on connecting flights with Frontier ($507). If you pay about $45 more, you can get nonstop flights on United.That’s about as good as the fares are going to be right now. Flights for Christmas are already priced at a premium when they first get published (about 20-30% more than other times of year, on average) and people will continue to book right up until go time (which means – at this point, the longer you wait the more you’ll pay). If you are comfortable with bare bones travel, Frontier isn’t a bad way to go – but be careful that you understand the luggage restrictions and other fees you can incur. If you like a bit of comfort, United is probably worth the extra dollars.

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