UPDATED: Oct. 21, 2015
If you’ll be flying at Christmas (Dec. 25), Hanukkah (Dec. 6-14), New Year’s (Dec. 31-Jan. 1) or any other holiday – or just to get away – shop for tickets now because they won’t get any cheaper. But read this first. We’re going to try and save you some money.
LISTEN: Rick loves saving people money.
Christmas, New Year’s Flights: Buy Tickets Now
Two of the best ways to save are incredibly simple.
1. Always compare airfare prices. No airline always has the cheapest fares.
Many in the U.S. wait until after the national late-November Thanksgiving holiday to book Christmas or New Year’s flights, but this can be too late. According to airfare data (of average lower-priced Christmas fares from last year), prices for U.S. flights jumped significantly in late November and early December.
2. Don’t wait too long: Book your tickets now or at least by mid-November. You won’t find cheap fares because all popular travel periods are pricey, but at least you won’t pay the procrastinator’s premium.
In the U.S., many make the mistake of waiting until after the national late-November Thanksgiving holiday to book Christmas or New Year’s flights. Unfortunately, that’s when U.S. airfare prices tend to jump significantly.
Christmas, New Year’s: Best Days to Fly
FareCompare’s airfare data analysis reveals which days are cheaper to fly, which are more expensive.
For Christmas departures (cheapest to more expensive)
- Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)
- Tuesday, Dec. 22
- Wednesday, Dec. 23
- Thursday, Dec. 24
For Christmas returns (cheapest to more expensive)
- Tuesday, Dec. 29
- Wednesday, Dec. 30
- Monday, Dec. 28
- Saturday, Dec. 26
- Sunday, Dec. 27
For New Year’s flights, returns (cheapest to more expensive)
- Friday, Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day)
- Monday, Jan. 4
- Tuesday, Jan. 5
- Saturday, Jan. 2
- Sunday, Jan. 3
Other Ways to Cut Costs
You can often save more with these strategies.
Avoid non-stops: If you don’t mind the inconvenience, skip the non-stop flight; connecting flights are often cheaper (but compare prices to be certain this is true for your route).
Fly hub airports: If you live near a smallish but conveniently-close airport, consider bypassing it in favor a larger hub airport. Bigger airports often mean bigger savings.
Use a carry-on: If your airline allows a free carry-on (most within the U.S. do), pack light an save on baggage fees. Besides, the bag you carry is a bag that cannot get lost. It will also get you in-and-out of the airport more quickly.
If You Must Fly on a Holiday
If you find yourself in a plane on Dec. 25, don’t feel too sorry for yourself because there are compensations: Airports are relatively empty, security lines are shorter and based on my experience, good cheer prevails – among pilots, flight attendants, and yes, even passengers.