There are two times a year when flights are very expensive – the middle of summer and around Christmas. Why is that?
The answer is simple – this winter phenomenon exists because the school is out for 2 weeks and people miss warmth, so they go to tropical destinations. Summer travelers just seek adventures and use their vacations for family visits or European trips.
What are a few ways to save on plane tickets around Christmas?
Before we dive right in the different ways of hunting, let’s look at why those flights are so expensive in winter. The simple reason is that many people want to travel in those 3 weeks and airlines simply can’t accommodate everybody and raise prices. They also want to make money. This is why if you have any flexibility at all, avoid this holiday travel and choose November/beginning of December or January/February.
With that being said, let’s see what can we do for Christmas travelers:
When is the best time to buy tickets?
Most airlines start selling tickets to destinations about 12 months before the flight date, except for Southwest. They release their fares just a few months out. The best time to buy tickets is not too early and not too late. You’ll have a good choice of prices if you will shop for tickets 5-10 months before your big trip. So you should shop for Christmas tickets between February and July and don’t just buy anything, but try getting a good price. If you get within a couple of months from Christmas, don’t expect to get a decent price and be ready to count your losses.
How expensive are flights for Christmas?
It depends on many variables, especially on your location. If you live in big travel hubs, such as Atlanta, New York or Los Angeles, you can expect to pay $500 for a round Christmas trip to Europe per person if you buy tickets in July. Smaller city dwellers should expect to pay closer to $600. If you buy tickets in October, your fare will be closer to $800.
Should you be flexible with airports?
Absolutely! The more flexible you are with airports and dates, the better rates you’ll be able to find. Sometimes you might encounter high prices from a big and convenient airport, but a lot cheaper tickets can be had from a smaller airport nearby. If you can find a way to get to that smaller airport by a cheap flight, car, or train, you can save hundreds. Another scenario is flying to a different airport than your destination and then commuting. Again, savings can make it very worthy!
Should you be flexible with dates?
That might be even more important than being flexible with airports. The most expensive time to fly is to do it together with everybody else, so please avoid it! If you can travel a few days before everybody else does and/or return a bit later, you stand to save hundreds. Even as much as a day can make a very big difference.
What about the time of the day?
This is another very important moment. Lots of people want to leave right after work or when the school is out; the most popular times for travel are 8 am – 10 am and later in the evening. Budget travelers should really look into early morning, noon, and late evening flights for maximum savings.
What do we think about low-cost carriers?
We often like low-cost carriers, but don’t recommend the absolutely cheapest ticket from them. It’s very common to get insanely cheap fare from many low-cost carriers, such as Allegiant, Spirit, Frontier, Ryanair, Wizzair, and similar companies only to be hit with endless fees for seats, luggage, carry-on luggage, and even ticket printing. Bigger airlines are beginning to follow the same path. To protect yourself you should always read the small print.
Are there any domestic airlines that don’t charge for luggage?
Southwest airlines don’t charge for 2 pieces of luggage per person, so our recommendation is to fly Southwest airlines whenever possible. They often have the best prices already and then free bags only make the pie sweeter. Keep in mind that Southwest don’t show up on any travel search sites, so go to them directly.
Do airlines inform about special deals and sales?
Many sites offer free sign up for alerts so that you wouldn’t have to constantly look for sales and special fares manually.
- 60% OFF Best Travel Deals
- 40% OFF Hot Rate Flights
Why you should always reserve?
According to regulations, all airlines should allow customers to hold their reservations for advertised fare for 24 hours without a credit card or purchases. Sadly, not all do that. American Airlines are the only ones to let you reserve without credit card information, but if you cancel, they will charge you a fee.
How can you benefit from frequent flyer miles?
Using frequent flyer miles might be tricky during busy holidays, but you can definitely use your credit card points.
How can travel agents help?
You might be reluctant to use a travel agency when you can find very nice deals yourself, but sometimes they just have better ways to find better deals than you could. Their services cost $25, but can sometimes save a few hundred. And we are not even talking about convenience here!
A hidden city trick
This doesn’t happen very often, but it still can sometimes. It’s also against airlines policy, so be careful with it. Let’s say we need to go from Atlanta to Memphis. The ticket might be outrageous at $600. However, there might be flights to Little Rock for just $300 that make a hidden stop in Memphis. You can leave the plane in Memphis and let the leg to Little Rock expire as long as you don’t have any bags checked in and your miles number entered because you can lose all miles this way.