Christmas Travel: It's Not Too Late to Save on Holiday Airfare

Okay, so you’re a procrastinator. You haven’t purchased your holiday airfare yet. Are you completely out of luck when it comes to finding cheap flights? No.

There are still some ways to save on holiday plane tickets, but procrastinating further isn’t one of them. Read these tips first and then get moving.

Tips to Save on Holiday Airfare

1. Shop Now

Beginning in the last week of October, airfare shoppers started paying an extra five dollars a day for their airfare for every day they delayed making that holiday airfare purchase.

This shouldn’t be so surprising. Last year, the airlines increased the majority of fares by more than $100 from Oct. 10 through Nov. 19, and this year looks to be shaping up along similar price lines.

Smart tip: Delay no longer. The clock is ticking.

2. Look for Connecting Flights

This rule isn’t always true, but it often is: Connecting flights are generally cheaper than nonstops. Compare routes and you could save $100 or more by selecting a less-convenient but more frugal connecting flight.

Smart tip: Avoid connections in cold-weather cities. You’re more likely to run into bad weather delays in Chicago as opposed to Phoenix. However, no city is delay-proof, since there can be a domino effect if enough flights are delayed.

What to do if you flight is delayed or canceled by bad weather (or anything)

3. Travel on the Cheapest Days to Fly

Many airlines start raising prices sharply on Dec. 22, while others start as early as Dec. 16. A flexible search calendar like the one you see when searching cheap flights on FareCompare is invaluable. Also be aware of the most expensive days of the holiday season:

Most expensive days to fly: The Mondays after Christmas and New Year’s (Dec. 26, Jan. 2)

Smart tip: The cheapest days to fly throughout the year are typically Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and this is often true during holiday periods as well.

Our top five tips include the cheapest days to fly and the best day to shop for airfare

4. Fly on the Holiday

Traditionalists won’t like this, but the cheapest date for flights during the Christmas holiday season is December 25. Bonus: Airports will be relatively calm and stress free.

Smart tip: Fly early in the day, so you don’t miss the big holiday dinner.

5. Pack Light and Pack Food

Avoid the $50 round-trip checked-bag fee by toting your own carryon and save some room for a sandwich or salad to avoid paying for those blah airline snacks.

Smart tip: If you fly JetBlue or Southwest, you get checked-bags for free (one with JetBlue, two with Southwest).

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Published: November 3, 2011