Airplane

Are you going to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas? While the holidays are a couple of months away, the best time to book flights for these busy travel weeks is now. 

Turkey-time traveler 

Most travelers book flights for Thanksgiving 28 to 60 days prior to the holiday, between Sept. 25 and Oct. 27, which offers relatively good prices ($491 on average). 

Surprisingly, AAA found that some of the best pricing can be found by booking seven to 13 days before the holiday, Nov. 11-17 this year. However, limited availability will make seats hard to come by at these discounted rates. 

Flying Monday prior to Thanksgiving week is the best option to arrive at your destination before the holiday. It has the lowest average ticket price ($486) and is a lighter travel day than later in the week.

For travelers more concerned about crowds than cost, the Sunday before the holiday has the highest average price per ticket ($564), but is consistently the lightest travel day. Cost-conscious travelers should consider flying on Thanksgiving Day, which has the lowest average price per ticket ($454).  

Ho-ho-heading out for Christmas

AAA advises travelers to make Christmas travel plans soon. Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 25 is the sweet spot for booking Christmas flights, with prices lower on average ($551) than more advanced bookings. 

However, most travelers book between 28 and 60 days before Christmas – between

Oct. 26 and Nov. 27 – and still get a relatively good price ($561 on average). Like Thanksgiving, last-minute Christmas travelers can find the overall best pricing ($488 on average) seven to 13 days before the holiday week, but flight availability is likely to be very limited by that time. 

Regardless of which day of the week Christmas falls, most travelers depart two to four days prior to the holiday. On average, these travelers pay ticket prices of $593 on Dec. 21, $639 on Dec. 22 (the busiest air travel day of Christmas week), and $603 on Dec. 23. 

AAA found Christmas Eve is the best day to travel. It consistently has the lowest average price per ticket ($527) and is the lightest travel day of the week. Many travelers opt to travel after the Christmas holiday leading up to New Year’s, and they pay a premium to do so. Dec. 26 has the highest average ticket price of the week at $692. 

Last year, AAA projected 54.3 million Americans would travel over the Thanksgiving holiday and a record-breaking 112.5 million during the year-end holiday season.

If those trends hold again this year, travelers are in for crowded airports and, possibly, longer wait times. Be patient and plan ahead, giving yourself plenty of time at the airport to maintain that holiday cheer.

For more: aaa.com/travel.


HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS

When it comes to getting the best value for your travel this holiday season, AAA recommends:

  • Start researching holiday travel options now and book flights by Oct.27.
  • Consult a knowledgeable travel agent; they take the guesswork out of researching and evaluating the many options, saving the time, hassle and headache.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance for your flight to protect your trip from unexpected surprises that can throw a wrench in your plans.