Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s: Act Now for Cheapest Flights

Consider this (more or less) a 30 day countdown to the major holidays. Act now for the cheapest possible flights throughout the November and December holidays. Done with booking Thanksgiving flights? Then skip to the tips on shopping for Christmas and New Year’s airfare.

Cheap Flights for Thanksgiving

Take a look at these tips on finding the cheapest flights. Notice we say “cheapest” and not cheap because it’s extremely rare to find anything remotely cheap at Thanksgiving.

Compare airfares: This tip will save money all year long, holidays included.

Book now: It’s already late but the sooner you book, the less you’ll pay because prices are still rising (in October alone, prices will go up about $5 per day, each day on average). The era of last-minute discounting is long gone.

Cheapest days to fly: Try to fly at least one of the cheaper days.

For departures (starting with the cheapest):

  • Thursday, Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving Day)
  • Monday, Nov. 23
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24

For returns (starting with the cheapest)

  • Tuesday, Dec. 1
  • Monday, Nov. 30
  • Saturday, Nov. 28

Most expensive days to fly: Try to avoid both.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 25
  • Sunday, Nov. 29

Compare airports: If there’s a larger, hub-style airport within driving distance of your hometown, compare fares to that one and your hometown airport. Bigger usually means cheaper

Cheap Flights for Christmas, New Year’s

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving has passed: According to FareCompare data (based on searches in 2014), there was a big spike in demand for Christmas flights immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday period (the first few days in December). Unfortunately, those searches also coincided with a sharp hike for the average of low-priced airfare.

Book flights now: Book now, but if you must delay, book before Thanksgiving (Nov. 26).

Cheapest days to fly: If possible, try to fly on at least one of these days.

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
  • Saturday, Dec. 26
  • Monday, Dec. 28
  • 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

Destination Ideas for the Holidays

Where people want to fly for holidays: According to FareCompare searches in 2014, these are the top 20 most popular destinations for Christmas and New Year’s travel. There is no particular explanation for what made these cities so popular beyond the obvious: People seek out warm weather in winter, big city excitement or hotspots for fun (like Vegas at New Year’s).

  1. Orlando
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Denver
  5. Dallas
  6. Atlanta
  7. Miami
  8. New York
  9. Phoenix
  10. Chicago
  11. San Francisco
  12. Tampa
  13. Houston
  14. Seattle
  15. Ft. Lauderdale
  16. Boston
  17. Detroit
  18. Newark
  19. Charlotte
  20. Philadelphia

Where will you go? We’d love to hear.


Updated: October 21, 2015