Score those Thanksgiving and Christmas flights for less.

By Liz Steelman
October 02, 2017

An affordable plane ticket home for Christmas (or Thanksgiving)? It might not only be in your dreams—that is, as long as you act fast. Earlier this month, travel planning sites Hipmunk, Hopper, and Kayak all independently released their November and December airfare predictions, and all had the same advice about booking holiday travel: The best time to book is now.

Though Hipmunk said the best time to book Thanksgiving flights was last week, if you book now, you can still save more than 20 percent on your flight, compared to booking a last minute deal. For the best remaining fares, book the week of October 2 or 23. The site marks the week of Halloween as the “point of no return” for both Thanksgiving and Christmas flights, when prices increase rapidly, topping out at an average of $476 and $504 a seat for Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively. 

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Hopper agrees on acting fast. Based on its historical data, the best time to book Christmas flights is this week—83 days before departure. However, you won’t be wasting a ton of money if you have to wait a little longer. While prices do begin rising around Thanksgiving, they do not peak until around December 5, when the average price for a plane ticket spikes by $7 a day.

Looking to book your flights around the best deal? You might need to ask your boss if you can work from home or use those saved vacation days, because your departure and return date will be more than a week apart. Hopper says the most expensive day to depart for Thanksgiving is Wednesday, November 22, and the most expensive return date is Sunday, November 26. If you can stretch your Thanksgiving holiday as much as possible, the best deal would be to depart on Monday, November 20 (saving $48), and return the following Wednesday, November 29 (saving $161).

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For Christmas, don’t plan on taking a quick trip home, either. According to Hopper, the busiest and most expensive day to fly will be Friday, December 22. December 26, according to Kayak, is the most expensive day to fly in the entire year, as well. Instead, try to fly out Saturday, December 16 or Tuesday, December 19. These are the cheapest days to depart for Christmas, says Hopper. And don’t plan on returning until January 4, the lowest airfare day in the two weeks following Christmas.

Not able to save as much on your flights as you’d like? Make up for it in other ways—like your holiday shopping—with these seven money-saving, stress-less tips.

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