Christmas Vacation Travel – Know the Best Times to Buy Airline Tickets

Christmas is Coming – Are You Ready?

Have you bought your airfare for Christmas vacation yet? If not, the time to shop is NOW.

Procrastinators Will Not Get Good Deals

There have been times in the past when procrastinators won big as airlines released tons of last-minute deals. Do not expect something similar this year; sure, anything is possible but the chances of deep discounts just before Thanksgiving are highly unlikely this year.

Wait too long to buy your holiday airfare this year and here's what you can expect:

  • Steep prices
  • Possible seat shortages

That right – wait too long and you might not get a seat at all.

When to Fly for Christmas

Some of the advice and tips that follows has been covered elsewhere but bears repeating. And note the prices for Christmas flights beginning Dec. 17 are generally sharply higher than flights on earlier dates. Flexibility on your dates, as always, is helpful. If you can fly before Dec. 17, chances are you will save money.

Avoid Flights on Peak Travel Surcharge Dates

Many airlines have added additional airline fees or surcharges starting in mid-December which continue through Jan. 3 – see our "peak travel day airfare surcharge chart" for details. Only Christmas Day itself is exempt, so Dec. 25 can be a good (and cheaper) day to fly.

Five Ways to Save on Christmas Holiday Travel

Some of the best ways to ease the economic pain of holiday airfare:

Find cheap flights for Christmas

1. ) Know Cheapest Days to Fly

An old tip but a good one: the cheapest days to fly are typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and as you will see, these are frequently the days with the cheapest airline surcharges.

2.) Know Cheapest Times to Fly

Try to fly early in the day, or in the evening or an overnight "redeye" flight – when people generally don't want to fly because that's when it's cheap to fly.

3.) Don't Insist on Nonstops

Sometimes a nonstop flight will be cheaper, but more often a connecting flight will save you money. It's up to you to decide if the inconvenience is worth it.

4.) Ship Gifts, Avoid Overweight Luggage

Did you know that overweight bags can cost you serious money as well as a checked-bag fee? Be smart, ship any gifts and foodstuffs you might be planning to pack.

5.) Use Carryon Baggage

Avoid checked-bags and the resulting baggage fees altogether by using a carryon. You'll find better things to spend your money on during the holidays.

Photo by Scott Feldstein on Flickr

Rick Seaney
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