7 Expert Tips to Book Cheap Holiday Flights

Photo By: Erik Odiin

Photo By: Erik Odiin

Peak travel season is just around the corner which means may be among the millions of Americans planning domestic flights for the holidays. With the high demand for plane seats this time of year, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about keeping airfare expenses within budget.

Top travel experts have a few secrets up their sleeves that help keep holiday fight costs down. Here are six ways to secure cheap flight tickets starting next week.

1. Start searching in September

If you haven’t secured your holiday travel yet, you’ve made a wise decision! According to FareCompare.com, a domestic and international flight resource, its data found that it’s best to book 2019 flights three months in advance. 

September is the best time to start your hunt for the cheap flight tickets ahead of the holidays. Don’t wait too long since prices tend to go up more than they do down as holiday dates approach.

2. Search flights on Tuesdays

If you haven’t heard of this best-kept insider secret, you’re in luck. FareCompare’s data found that the best day to book flights for domestic travel is on Tuesdays. Experts say this is because airlines usually post discounted fares on Monday night and by Tuesday, competing airlines have priced their fares more competitively. 

As you’re browsing for cheap holiday flights on a Tuesday, FareCompare found that you can find the best deals around 3 p.m. EST.

3. Research fares into smaller airports

Budget airlines tend to offer flights through a city’s secondary airport. When doing research into low-cost holiday flights, make sure to compare flights from international airport with the smaller carriers at secondary airports.

If you find a more affordable flight at a secondary airport, your work’s not done. Find out how much ground transportation, like a Lyft or Taxi would cost to get from the small airport to your hotel or final destination. Although flights at secondary airlines might be cheaper, expensive ground travel can wipe out the money you saved. 

4. Buy flights directly

Not all third-party airfare websites offer the best holiday flight deals. Don’t disregard the power of booking directly with your preferred carrier over the holiday season. This can be particularly helpful for budget airlines that aren’t prominently featured on big travel sites.  

5. Follow airline social media handles

Speaking of getting cheap holiday flights directly through airlines, their social media accounts can also clue you into upcoming flash sales and discounts. Being a social follower has its rewards, since you might snag exclusive discount codes that are only available through the airline’s social media channels.

6. Stay flexible with flight dates

Holidays like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve usually have fixed travel dates where you arrive and depart on the same days as many other travelers. December holiday travel dates, however, are more varied, especially since big holidays land in the middle of the week this year.

Keeping your travel dates flexible can help you land lower fares. For example, instead of sandwiching a Christmas trip with travel dates from December 23rd to December 27th, try traveling ahead of the holiday and flying back home on Christmas (e.g. December 21st to December 25th).

7. Try a red-eye flight

Airports and flights are already congested as it is, but adding the swell of the holiday rush can not only be chaotic, it can be pricey. Cheap holiday flights may be available if you muster up your energy for a red-eye flight.

These flights are often at odd hours and don’t have as much demand. A 1:30 a.m. discounted flight might just be worth it and may also give you the chance to start your day early when you arrive at your destination. Plus, you can always catch up on sleep on the plane. 

How effective these tips are depend on your local area and unique travel dates. But every dollar counts. Whether you choose to travel on the cheapest days to fly or take advantage of the best day to book flights, your holiday travel budget will thank you for it.

Jennifer Calonia