If you’re looking to save some money this holiday season, data researchers have gotten pretty good at determining the best times to book air travel — as well as when to fly. Yet there is not one rule of thumb to follow when trying to make cost-effective holiday travel plans.
For example, booking your air travel for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays too early can be really expensive, but waiting too long can be just as financially painful. Confused yet?
Not to worry. The following are answers to the questions you should be asking yourself as you look to finalize your holiday travels.
How Long Can I Wait Before Prices Rise Significantly?
For Thanksgiving travel, you’re in friendly booking territory during the month of October. But make sure you have Halloween circled on your calendar if you want to lock in the lowest fares. You’ll start to see prices climb slowly beginning in November, and then more so as the month progresses.
“Prices will really begin spiking by $10 per day during the final two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving,” Patrick Surry, the chief data scientist for Hopper said.
If you’re traveling around the Christmas holiday season, the window for the lowest airfare has already closed (the first week of October). But you’ll want to book before you hit about 10 days out from Christmas Day, Mr. Surry said.
“Based on Hopper’s historical data, the best time to book Christmas flights is about 83 days before departure, which is the first week of October. Prices begin rising by about $4 per day around Thanksgiving, and then by about $7 per day in the final two weeks,” Mr. Surry said.
Does It Matter Which Day I Book?
There are several different theories about which day of the week, and time of day, has the most affordable fares. For example, Priceline.comdata shows that the cheapest day of the week to purchase is Friday, despite the majority of tickets being purchased on a Tuesday.
But there might not be a whole lot to gain from focusing on the day of the week.
“Pricing is extremely nuanced,” Mr. Surry said. “Everyone wants a golden rule about when to buy, but it really depends on your route, dates and demand.”
Does It Matter Which Day I Fly?
Yes, this one you’ll want to think about carefully, and also ask yourself: How flexible is my holiday travel?