Checking flights and fares for the holidays can sometimes be eye-opening in a not-so-good way. Simply put, the fares are almost always higher than what you’re used to paying if you fly to the same city any other time of the year. Part of this is because most airlines jack up fares on the peak holiday travel days, adding surcharges of about $30 each way. But it’s also because the price of a ticket on any flight depends partly on how heavily booked that flight is — and holidays flights are always heavily booked.
But all is not lost. There are some strategies you can employ to at least lessen the pain and find the cheapest possible flight for the holidays.
Most importantly, if at all possible, be flexible on your travel dates. Very often there is an enormous difference (sometimes several hundred dollars!) between flights on one day versus the next. We suggest you check several combinations of dates to see which ones is least expensive for your city, but as a starting point you can check out the calendar below. There are exceptions, of course, but the dates in green are more often than not the cheapest days to fly and the dates in red you should avoid if at all possible.
Besides being flexible on your dates, it is also critically important that you book early. During most of the year, we advise you to not book too early or too late. We’ve said the sweet spot is normally about 4-6 weeks in advance for domestic travel.
Well, throw that out the window for the holidays.
Because airlines automatically adjust fares upward on flights as they get booked up, and because holiday flights always get booked up, for travel around Thanksgiving and Christmas it is more important than ever to book as far in advance as you can. Do you risk fares dropping at the last minute? That is a pretty small risk given historical holiday pricing patterns, but thanks to our new Price Drop Payback Program if you book with us you have some degree of protection even if fares do end up dropping.
Another potentially money-savings strategy is to try an alternate airport at either end of your trip (or both). If there are other airports within driving distance of your first choice airport, at least check to see how the fare may differ. Sometimes you will find that fares are dramatically lower and it may be worth a 60 or 90 minute drive to save a bunch of money on your air fare.
We know that searching for holiday airfares is never easy and rarely fun. If things get too frustrating and you feel like pulling your hair out, give us a call at 1-800-CHEAP-AIR. We have expert travel counselors standing by who may be able to suggest an alternative or dig up an option that you won’t find on-line.