When Is the Absolute Best Time to Buy Holiday Airfares?


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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.

The ideal time to purchase your Thanksgiving and Christmas airfare in 2019 is the first week of September. According to the data, booking your flights in this time frame could save you up to 12 percent on Thanksgiving flights and 19 percent on Christmas flights.

To arrive at this timeline, Hipmunk analyzed historical data of round-trip prices for travel during the holiday times.

Beyond the date you should secure your airfare, Hipmunk also released other sets of data that could help you save money this upcoming holiday season.

Fly on the Right Day

You now know the best day to book your flights to score a great deal, but choosing the day you fly is also a factor. According to the data, if you can make it work, the cheapest day to fly is on the holidays.

The most popular day of travel during Thanksgiving season is Wednesday, as is usually the case, so if you're able to board your flight on Turkey Day instead, you can save up to 12 percent off the peak booking price.

As for Christmas, it falls on a Wednesday this year, so the most popular (and expensive) days to fly this year will be the previous Saturday, with your return on the Sunday after the holiday. By opting to fly out on the 25th instead, you could save up to $300. But the catch—you have to return on the 26th to score these great savings. Even if you can't make that exact, super-short itinerary work, choosing dates other than those most popular departure and return dates will still save you some cash.

Don't Miss a Deal

Since prices can fluctuate by the day—even by the hour—the best way to lock in a great fare is to set alerts that will notify you when the price for a particular flight have changed or dropped. According to Hipmunk's data released in 2018, travelers who had set fare alerts saved 6 percent on Thanksgiving flights and 7 percent on Christmas flights.

Consider Alternative Airports

Heading to San Francisco? Look at flights into Oakland (OAK) instead. Traveling to Washington, D.C.? Baltimore (BWI) might be your best bet for your budget, rather than Reagan National Airport or Dulles International Airport.

Choosing alternative airports in major U.S. cities like these can hack off a portion of the ticket price. You can also save yourself the time of searching routes individually by entering multiple airport codes into the same search, which will provide you with more options.

Book Basic Economy

You're probably familiar with the term "basic economy," which is typically an airline's most budget-friendly, no-frills fare. You might have to sacrifice seat selection or baggage preferences, but the lower fare might be worth it. Plus, basic economy doesn't have to be so basic—pack light, bring your own snacks and a refillable water bottle, and rest east on your flight knowing that you saved major money.

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