Finding Last-Minute Christmas Flights

You waited and waited – and now you’ll pay the price for procrastination. Don’t panic. There are ways to minimize the damage. Check out these tips but please, no more delays, OK?

Listen: More tips on snagging last-minute tickets from travel expert Rick Seaney.

Looking for New Year’s fares? Right here

  • Shop Now

The longer you wait, the more the price of those airline tickets may rise. You’re already going to pay a hefty premium, don’t make it any worse. Shop now.

  • Fly on the Holiday

The cheapest day to fly during the Christmas holidays is Christmas Day itself, Dec. 25. Next cheapest is Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). If you can include one of these days in your itinerary, you will save money.

  • Look for Short-Haul Routes

If you don’t have to be in any particular city but just want to get away, flights on the shorter side connecting two big hubs that have lots of competitive airlines don’t rise in price as much as greater distances. Examples include flights between Miami and Tampa, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York or Boston.

  • Use Your Miles

Your delaying tactics may have aced you out of rewards miles trips but you won’t know until you try so check it out. A holiday flight could be a little pricier than most miles trips; on the other hand, it’s possible your miles are about to expire anyway, so use it or lose it.

  • Look for First Class Deals

In recent weeks we’ve seen some airlines advertise first of or business class deals for the holidays which come very close to last-minute coach fares (and if we see more, we’ll post them in the Deals Blog). If you delay much longer, they may even be comparable so be sure to check out upper class prices too. Might as well fly in maximum comfort as long as you’re paying top dollar.

  • Keep Baggage Light

If it’s at all possible to use a carry-on, you’ll save on bag fees for most airlines (and here’s how to pack absolutely everything in a carry-on). If you must check a bag, watch the weight; most airlines add a fee to any bag weighing over 50 pounds and that’s on top of the regular charge.

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Published: December 19, 2013