When is the best time to buy Thanksgiving and Christmas airfares?

Air travel

Think about the winter holidays -- and book your airfares next week.

(Fernando Soares / Getty Images)

It’s not crazy to be making winter holiday travel plans in August. Those who buy airline tickets for Christmastime travel during the week of Aug. 10 could save almost 19%, according to online travel website Skyscanner.

Using that same purchase window, you could save 5.5% on Thanksgiving airfares and close to 15% on New Year’s Eve airfares.

Skyscanner doesn’t have a crystal ball, but it does analyze data to project the travel sweet spot of when to buy airline tickets for the winter holidays.

Even though people travel on different days, data support a booking-early strategy to get the best deal. Buy your tickets a little later and the savings drop off.


Some examples from Skyscanner’s data:

-- Thanksgiving airfares booked as late as the week of Sept. 14 may still save you 4%.

-- Christmas travel booked as late as the week of Aug. 31 may save 12.7%,

-- New Year’s Eve travel booked the week of Sept. 14 could save 8.5%.


Travel website Hopper analyzes best time to buy too. It notes that Thanksgiving airfares usually start high and remain flat until they go up about 10 days before the holiday.

And apparently most of people procrastinate.

Hopper found last year that less than 40% of all Thanksgiving travel searches occurred before October, and 59% of travelers waited until the four weeks before Christmas to look for airfares, suggesting many likely overpaid for their airline seats.

The bottom line is that if you find a bargain price you like now, grab it.

And it’s more than OK to ask for help. You can set up free price alerts at these websites to help you find the best price. The results will be sent to you by email.

Many sites allow you to set up alerts for multiple destinations in case you’re still trying to decide where you want to go.

--Skyscanner: Do a search on Skyscanner’s website and then you can press a “get price alerts” button that will keep you updated.

--Airfarewatchdog: The website finds and verifies the low fares it finds. You can plug in more than one city-to-city destination too.


--Yapta: With these alerts, you can track fares for routes and dates. Yapta also will send you an alert if the price of a ticket you bought goes down.

--TripAdvisor: You can create price alerts for one or more destinations.

--Kayak: Register at the site and you’ll be able to sign up for price alerts.

--Hopper: It rolled out a new free app that predicts best time to buy airfares (as Skyscanner does) and allows you to set up fare alerts too.


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