If your knee jerk reaction to this question is “Not yet, for crying out loud,” we get it. We really do. After all, who really wants to think about Christmas flights months in advance? But here’s the thing. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t share the cold hard facts about the best time to buy holiday airline tickets.
When you wait until November or December to pick up those flights, you’re almost surely going to pay more. And paying more for airline tickets is the last thing you want to do at the time of year when you want your extra cash in hand. Our airfare research can and should save you money!
Each year, we track on a daily basis more than 11,000 popular airfares for the holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, to help you pinpoint the best time to buy holiday flights. It’s really as simple as that. To kick off this year’s Holiday Cheap Flights Report, we thought we’d take a look back at the last year (2015) and share some intriguing trends in airline ticket costs.
In 2015, September was the best time to buy Thanksgiving flights. The lowest airfares increased $38 for passengers who waited until October to book their Thanksgiving flights. And if they really procrastinated and bought in November? The lowest airfare was, on average, $52 more, and those were on less desirable itineraries with more stops at less convenient times. So if you’re a family of 4, you saved $200 and got better flights by booking earlier.
Christmas & New Years Airfare
The obvious takeaway from our Christmas/New Years flight data is not to wait until December to buy. Travelers who waited until December to purchase Christmas flights paid, on average, almost $110 more per ticket than if they bought in September. In October, the lowest fares were only $15 more. So if you’re going to procrastinate, your wallet will take the smallest hit if you buy in October. From there, those who put off purchase until November spent about $50 more per airline ticket. Keep in mind, you’ll also find more seats on “better” flights when booking before December.
We’re a bit of a broken record. Kind of a benevolent backseat driver. A little mosquito around your ear buzzing, “don’t wait to buy that ticket to visit mom and dad! Don’t overpay!” In fact, every darn year we start to talk about holiday airfares in late summer. And every darn year, people choose to wait. And wait. And sometimes wait a little more. Don’t. Inexpensive flights in September will start a gradual (and then steep) climb the closer we get to the holiday weeks. As this climb gets underway, our blog and call center will get inundated with frustrated passengers who waited just a little too late to buy.
Now is actually the best time to start searching for holiday flights and gearing up to buy as soon as you see a good deal. If you see a decent price, don’t assume you can go away for a few days to think about it, and then come back to find the same airfare. Many people are searching the same itineraries. The savviest customers will jump on a hot price because they simply don’t last. Be proactive this year and you might save big.
Want help? Email us. Don’t forget to check our Holiday Flights Report whenever you think about holiday flights as we’ll bring you more tips, updates and travel hacks to make this holiday season your most budget-friendly on record!