This blog post was updated on August 15, 2023.
It might seem like summer has just ended, but travelers have to start getting serious about their holiday air travel. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are not only some of the most popular times to fly but they can also be the most miserable and challenging flights to shop for if you want a good price, seat, flight date and time. And as you should be starting to book those flights, here are a few steps to take to ensure you go about shopping for holiday air travel on the right flight path.
Procrastinators can’t afford to put off booking their holiday air travel. Airfare is usually at its lowest between September and mid October for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. While you might hope that the rate will get better with time, most likely prices will only escalate and ideal flight times will be a distant memory. Even if you aren’t ready to shop just yet, you should at least set up email alerts so that you can purchase when you see the price drop.
Adjust Your Date Expectations
Most travelers want to flight out to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving on Wednesday after work. If you want to fly on the peak holiday travel days, you are going to pay for it. When you begin shopping for holiday air travel, you need to adjust your great date expectations if you want a better deal and maybe even something other than a middle seat on a packed flight. If you have more flexibility with your dates, you tend to find better deals on holiday air travel.
Aim For Non-Stop Flights
If you can take a non-stop flight for the holidays, you should. The holidays often translate into delays over bad weather, which can mix up connections in an instant. For travelers buying their holiday air travel, you should try to avoid connecting flights and pay a bit more for non-stop flights if you can. Non stop flights are less likely to be problematic when you can’t afford problems at the holidays.
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Consider Upgrades Now
That extra bit of legroom or maybe even a meal on your red-eye flight could be virtually non-existent if you try to upgrade closer to your flight. The holidays aren’t always the best of times to be flying with all of the crowded planes. If you are buying your flight now, you might want to pay a bit more to be bumped up to a better seat with more services. Travelers could be less inclined to spring for this extravagance closer to the holidays when they are more cash strapped from holiday shopping. You’ll be glad you upgraded your seat back in September and paid for it then too rather than when finances are a bit tighter in December.
Q: How far in advance should I start shopping for holiday air travel?
A: It’s recommended to start shopping for holiday air travel at least two to three months before your planned departure date. This gives you time to explore options and catch early-bird deals.
Q: Are there specific days of the week when airfare is cheaper?
A: Generally, if you fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays you tend to find lower airfare prices, although the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always an exception.
Q: Is it cheaper to book a round-trip ticket or one-way tickets?
A: In many cases, booking a round-trip ticket can be more cost-effective than two separate one-way tickets. However, always compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Q: What should I do if my travel dates are flexible?
A: If your travel dates are flexible, use fare comparison websites to find the cheapest days to fly. Some platforms have flexible date search features that can help you identify the most affordable options.
Q: Are there any hidden fees I should be aware of?
A: Yes, be aware of potential hidden fees such as baggage charges, seat selection fees, and in-flight amenities. Read the airline’s terms and conditions to understand any additional costs.
Q: Can I earn frequent flyer miles when booking through OTAs?
A: It depends on the airline and online travel agent (OTA). Some airlines may not offer frequent flyer miles for bookings made through third-party platforms. Check with both the airline and OTA before booking.
Q: Should I consider travel insurance for my holiday trip?
A: Travel insurance can provide peace of mind in case of unforeseen events, such as trip cancellations or delays. Evaluate your travel insurance options and choose a plan that suits your needs.
Do you have any holiday travel tips that you’d like to share? Tell us about them in the comments below!