Fly Big, Fly Short: Save on Holidays, Save Anytime

This handy little trick will help anyone who can exercise a little (or a lot) of flexibility, especially when choosing destinations. It could save a bundle during the holidays and it’s very simple. Keep reading, after the podcast.

LISTEN: Rick Seaney’s podcast has more.

Fly Big, Fly Short for Savings

What this means:

  • Fly big: Fly between two large airports, preferably hubs. This includes both departure and destination airports.
  • Fly short: Limit flight times to roughly 90 minutes or less.

Such routes typically have lots of airline competition which keeps prices low, but it also protects the routes from the crazy holiday price hikes that are all-too-common at peak travel periods.

Here are some examples of fly-big-fly-short routes; see the non-peak pricing vs. holiday fares:

Sydney – Melbourne

  • Flights in November: $141*
  • Flights at Christmas: $254

Chicago – Detroit

  • Flights in October: $213*
  • Flights at Thanksgiving: $224

Dallas – Houston

  • Flights in October $173
  • Flights at Thanksgiving: $180

Los Angeles – San Francisco

  • Flights in October: $220
  • Flights at Thanksgiving: $226

*All prices were found in mid-August and may have changed.

What You Can Do

If your hometown airport is small but there’s a hub within a couple hours drive, compare prices to both; the longer drive may be worth it.


  • Where you need to go: Birmingham to Shannon. Christmas price: £306
  • Alternative route: London to Dublin. Christmas price: £173
  • Where you need to go: Burbank to Fresno. Thanksgiving price: $500
  • Alternative route: Los Angeles to San Jose. Thanksgiving price: $200

There is a lot of driving, but if you’re traveling as a family of four, there is a lot of savings.

Tip: See if you can influence holiday venues. If the family can’t decide whether to celebrate Turkey Day in Hartford or Boston, compare prices to both cities – but Boston will likely be a better deal for most.

Whether flying big or small, long or short, always compare airfares. No single airline always has the  best deal but you won’t know which does if you don’t compare.


Updated: September 17, 2015