When Is the Absolute Best Time to Buy Holiday Airfares?

Home for the Holidays

Ronald Reagan Airport.
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As travelers start thinking about their holiday travel plans, online travel agency Hipmunk has come out with its predictions on the best times to buy those flights. After analyzing historical data, Hipmunk found that the best week to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving and Christmas is by October 30.

The Best Times to Book Thanksgiving Flights

For Thanksgiving, Hipmunk analyzed the median historical roundtrip booking prices for U.S. flights departing between November 20, 2016, and November 24, 2016, and returning between November 25, 2016, and November 27, 2016.

 

Travelers can save up to 27 percent on Thanksgiving airfares if they buy their tickets by September 25. Christmas travelers can save nearly 40 percent on fares if they make their purchases by September 25.

Looking at Thanksgiving booking trends, 64 percent of bookings are done by the beginning of October. The busiest travel day is the day before Thanksgiving, booked by 33 percent of travelers. And the least busy travel day is Thanksgiving day, booked by only 11 percent of travelers.

The Best Times to Book Christmas Flights

For Christmas, 84 percent of bookings are done by the beginning of October. The busiest travel days are December 22-23, booked by 56 percent of travelers. And the least busy travel day is Christmas day, booked by only one percent of travelers.

Travelers buying airfare the week of October 30 still saved up to 24 percent on Thanksgiving flights, and up to 31 percent on Christmas flights.

 “Flight prices for holiday travel tend to fluctuate through September and October, so it’s best to set a fare alert—like one available through Hipmunk—so that you are notified when prices change,” said Adam Goldstein, Hipmunk’s co-founder and CEO. “So long as you book before Halloween, you’ll usually avoid the highest prices.”

Soderlund recommended that travelers sign up for a fare alert function on a website such as Hipmunk to keep track of roundtrip, one-way, or multi-city flights on the dates for the holidays.

If you miss the holiday airfares buy dates, Soderlund advises travelers to check their fare alerts for potential last-minute deals. “There will always be surprises out there for savvy consumers who can be flexible with their holiday travel plans,” she said.