It may not look like it yet, but the holidays are just around the corner. Two separate reports, from online travel agency CheapAir.com and airfare prediction app Hopper, indicate that the optimal window for booking affordable holiday flights actually has passed; prices will rise every day as the holidays approach.1 If that holds true, unprepared travelers may find themselves in a quandary about how to secure the best deals for their trips. Thankfully, you may still have time to leverage several techniques to help you save money on your flights.
1. Buy now:
The sooner you purchase tickets, the more you will save, according to ABC News.2 When a record number of people travel via air, as may be the case this holiday season, finding last-minute deals often gets harder and harder. Start looking for ticket deals now.
2. Price seats in different configurations:
On the presumption that you’ll have travel companions for your holiday trip, you have one additional consideration regarding cost savings: While sitting next to each other on a flight home for the holidays might seem ideal, there is reason to give pause. Some airlines charge to select a seat in advance and also charge more for seats in the first few rows of economy class, potentially making any group trip more expensive than it has to be. To help find affordable choices, investigate the cost of seat prices throughout the plane and consider searching seat prices on different flights.
3. Check fares several times a day:
Airline “inventory control” teams and systems have become quite nimble at sensing and reacting to market interest. The fare for a particular flight may actually go up or down multiple times in a
single day. If you see a price that’s lower tonight than it was this afternoon, consider locking it in.
4. Travel on the holiday itself:
Traveling on the holiday itself could keep money in your pocket. According to ABC News, Thanksgiving Day typically features the cheapest flights, fewer crowds and shortest lines. Try traveling on the morning of the holiday and if you can’t do that, consider the Monday before the holiday. Travel experts estimate significant potential savings for travel on less popular days.3
5. Forego checked bags:
Although many people choose to travel with gifts and other holiday items in their checked bags, consider traveling with carry-on luggage only. With many airlines charging $25-$50 or more for
each checked bag, each way, bringing only carry-on luggage is cost-efficient – especially as you may be able to ship your gifts to your final destination for less than the checked-bag fees.
6. Check routes through major airports:
Your hometown airport may be the most convenient one from which to fly, but the convenience may come at an extra cost – perhaps, to the tune of a few hundred dollars per person. That’s why flying between major airports may make good economic sense. The fact that competition is fierce at large airports sometimes equates to lower prices for travelers who choose those gateways.4 The silver lining? If you fly in and out of key airports, you’re less likely to need to make a connection, saving time and hassle during peak travel periods.5
7. Learn about alternate gateways, too:
While fares may be less expensive for flights between major airports, sometimes those gateways aren’t actually the closest to your final holiday destination. If you have to rent a car or hail a ride
from an app on your phone to bridge the distance, you might end up having less money to make merry with. A quick search of the web for “alternate airports” will bring up a list of options to
consider. Whether you choose to book your holiday travel now or to try to find a last-minute deal, consider how obtaining travel insurance with 24/7 travel assistance services may come in handy and help cover you financially.