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Expedia: Best Time to Buy Holiday Season Flights

New data reveals how far in advance to book airfare, best dates to travel and new ways to save for the 2019 holiday season

September 3, 2019

When it comes to booking airfare, common sense says to plan ahead in order to get the best deals. But the sweet spot for flights can vary, with seasonality, travel dates and other factors all influencing price. has taken aim at the guess work and analyzed thousands of holiday bookings to determine the optimal time to book and save. Tips include:

•Traveling on the holiday itself often yields the cheapest rates

•Book at least two weeks to a month ahead of your trip

•Avoid starting your trip on the Saturday before the holiday – this was consistently the most expensive day to fly

Travel Tips for Thanksgiving

•Cheapest Time to Buy: October 29 – November 13

oBooking two weeks to a month in advance of travel saved travelers more than five percent.

oThose who booked 91+ days out and less than one week out paid the most, with last-minute bookers paying more than 20% above average.

•Best Time to Fly:

oFor the cheapest rates, start your trip on Thanksgiving Day – last year travelers who departed on Thanksgiving paid about $100 less than those who departed the Saturday prior to the holiday.

oIf traveling on the holiday is a no-go, your second cheapest options will be starting your trip on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.

oData confirms the busiest travel day leading up to the holiday is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Travel Tips for Christmas

•Cheapest Time to Buy: November 23 – December 9

oBooking during this window saved travelers around 15 percent, so aim to book at least two weeks to a month in advance of travel.

oWhile last-minute bookers payed around 2% more than average, early birds who booked 91+ days out paid around 15% more than the average holiday traveler.

•Best Time to Fly:

oThe cheapest day to fly was Christmas Eve, with travelers paying around $100 less than those who started their trip on the Saturday prior to the holiday.

oIf traveling on Christmas Eve or day isn’t an option, aim to start your trip on Dec. 23.

oData confirms the busiest travel day leading up to Christmas is shaping up to be December 21.

Other savings tips:

•Set up price alerts and favorite the hotels you like.

•Work the Rewards.  

•Bundle flights with hotel.

•Double-check blackout dates.

•Prepare your travel documents. Don’t get left behind because you didn’t have the necessary documents to leave the country. Remember: processing times for new U.S. Passports range anywhere from two to eight weeks (possibly much longer given current levels of government slowdowns and confused priorities), and if you already have a passport make sure it won’t expire within six months of your travel dates.

•Enroll in TSA Precheck or Clear. Clear is technology corporation that has developed new options for speeding through security lines.

•Mark your calendars for major sales.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on November 29-December 2 are popular dates for finding flight savings.