When it comes to booking airfare, common sense says to plan ahead in order to get the best deals. But the sweet spot for flights can vary, with seasonality, travel dates and other factors all influencing price.
Each year, Expedia.com® aims to take the guesswork out of holiday travel by analyzing thousands of holiday bookings to determine the optimal time to book and save. Tips include:
- Traveling on the holiday itself often yields the cheapest rates
- Book at least two weeks to a month ahead of your trip
- Avoid starting your trip on the Saturday before the holiday – this was consistently the most expensive day to fly
Holiday Airfare Booking Tips
- Cheapest Time to Buy: October 29 – November 13
- Booking two weeks to a month in advance of travel saved travelers more than five percent.
- Those who booked 91+ days out and less than one week out paid the most, with last-minute bookers paying more than 20% above average.
- Best Time to Fly:
- For the cheapest rates, start your trip on Thanksgiving Day – last year travelers who departed on Thanksgiving paid about $100 less than those who departed the Saturday prior to the holiday.
- If traveling on the holiday is a no-go, your second cheapest options will be starting your trip on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
- Data confirms the busiest travel day leading up to the holiday is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
- Cheapest Time to Buy: November 23 – December 9
- Booking during this window saved travelers around 15 percent, so aim to book at least two weeks to a month in advance of travel.
- While last-minute bookers paid around 2% more than average, early birds who booked 91+ days out paid around 15% more than the average holiday traveler.
- Best Time to Fly:
- The cheapest day to fly was Christmas Eve, with travelers paying around $100 less than those who started their trip on the Saturday prior to the holiday.
- If traveling on Christmas Eve or day isn’t an option, aim to start your trip on the 23rd.
- Data confirms the busiest travel day leading up to Christmas is shaping up to be December 21st.
More Tips to Help Travelers Save this Holiday
It’s not quite time to start booking, but there are some things travelers should do in the meantime to make sure they get the most out of their holiday trip:
- Set up price alerts and favorite the hotels you like. If you log in or create an Expedia.com account, your recent searches and any hotels you save will automatically be saved in “My Trips” so you can come back and track price changes.
- Work the Rewards. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you’re signed up for any travel loyalty programs. With Expedia’s free Rewards program, travelers can collect points to redeem on air, hotel and package bookings, while still collecting frequent flier miles. Plus, when you book on the Expedia Mobile App, points are worth double.
- Save by bundling your flight with hotel. Whether you book your flight and hotel at the same time on Expedia or come back and add a hotel later, you’ll save. Travelers save an average of up to $600 on package bookings.
- Double-check blackout dates. If you’re preparing to use a companion ticket or award miles to book flights, look up the fare blackout dates so you know exactly what days you can depart and return home.
- Prepare your travel documents. Don’t get left behind because you didn’t have the necessary documents to leave the country. Remember: processing times for new U.S. Passports range anywhere from 2-8 weeks, and if you already have a passport make sure it won’t expire within six months of your travel dates.
- Enroll in TSA Precheck or Clear. Save yourself a lot of time and security line headaches by applying for TSA Precheck or Clear before your trip. You’ll get to skip the longest lines at security and keep your shoes on. TSA Precheck is absolutely worth the $85 fee, and your application lasts for five years. Clear is another great way to speed through security lines.
- Mark your calendars for major sales. There are so many ways to save on Expedia before and during the holidays. Our epic Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale – November 29-December 2 – will have hundreds of deals on flights, hotels, activities, and more.