Tailwind by Hipmunk

Book Holiday Flights by Halloween to Avoid the Scariest Prices

It’s the day after Labor Day, and now that we’re solidly in the ‘ber months, you’re probably dreaming of sweaters and leaf season and hot apple cider. You’re back-to-school and back to work, and probably not even remotely ready to think about booking your holiday flights. But don’t freak out—you have until Halloween to avoid truly scary prices.

Travelers looking for a truly “screaming” deal should book 2017 holiday flights the week of September 25 to maximize savings.

These are just a few of the findings from Hipmunk’s annual “when to buy holiday airfare” analysis, which examined historical prices for US flights on and around the 2017 Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to determine when travelers can get the best deal.

Here’s what we found:

Early-bird buyers can save up to 27 percent on Thanksgiving and 38 percent on Christmastime flights.

Those who waited a month, though, were still able to great deals: travelers purchasing airfare the week of October 30 still saved up to 24 percent on Thanksgiving flights, and up to 31 percent on Christmas flights.

“Flight prices for holiday travel tend to fluctuate through September and October, so it’s best to set a fare alert—like one available through Hipmunk—so that you are notified when prices change,” said Adam Goldstein, Hipmunk’s Co-founder and CEO. “So long as you book before Halloween, you’ll usually avoid the highest prices.”

This should come as a sigh of relief to most travelers: Hipmunk’s analysis found 64 percent of all Thanksgiving flights and 84 percent of all Christmas flights were not booked until the start of October.

Travelers that are spooked by crowds should fly on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, historically when the fewest flights are booked. They should also steer clear of the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and December 22-23, when crowds peak.

Thanksgiving Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed the median historical round-trip booking prices for US flights departing Nov 20, 2016 – Nov 24, 2016, and returning Nov 25, 2016 – Nov 27, 2016.                                    

Christmas Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed the median historical round-trip booking prices for US flights departing Dec 22, 2016 – Dec 25, 2016, and returning Dec 26, 2016 – Dec 28, 2016.