Holiday Travel: AAA Reveals Best Time to Buy Thanksgiving, Christmas Airfare

AAA hones in on the best time for travelers to purchase flights and save on airfare this holiday season
LAS VEGAS, Nev. Oct. 17, 2018. If you’re wondering when to book your Thanksgiving or Christmas flights, AAA has the answer. The full-service travel agency analyzed three years of flight booking data to determine the most popular air travel days and the best time to book flights this holiday season.

“Anything that makes getting through an airport easier is a good thing during the holidays,” said Michael Blasky, media relations lead for AAA Nevada. “By knowing the best time to book and the best days to travel, consumers can save money and reduce the stress of holiday travel.”

To assist travelers in making smarter travel decisions, AAA suggests consumers start by booking flights on off travel days, like:

  • The Monday before Thanksgiving: Historically, the Monday before Thanksgiving (November 19) is a lighter air travel day, making this the best option for travelers to save on airfare. The average ticket price for this date hovers around $465.

    Conversely, Tuesday and Wednesday directly preceding Thanksgiving are travel days to avoid. November 20 and 21 mark the most popular travel days of the holiday week, which means travelers will face high airfare costs. Tickets for these dates average $509 and $507, respectively.

  • Christmas Eve: Regardless of the day of the week Christmas falls on, most travelers depart two or three days before the holiday. That means this year, Saturday, December 22 and Sunday, December 23 will be the busiest and most expensive days to travel.

    Travelers open to flying on lighter travel days, like Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24), will save 9 percent, with airfare averaging $512.

While many believe that booking holiday travel in advance is the only way to save big on preferred flights, AAA’s analysis showed the opposite, and unearthed the following insights:

  • There is a sweet spot for savings: Travelers who book 61-90 days before Christmas (between September 23 and October 25) will save up to $100 per ticket.

  • Booking holiday travel in advance also has its pros and cons: Although booking ahead can help ensure the best flight availability, travelers who booked their Thanksgiving flights over the summer (between July 25 and September 22) paid an extra $39 per ticket. Travelers who booked their Christmas flights six months or more prior to the holiday paid and extra $98 per ticket.

  • Procrastination can work out in your favor: Those open to last minute planning might be able to find a bargain. In fact, according to analysis, travelers that booked 7-13 days prior to Thanksgiving (November 9 through November 15) and Christmas (December 12 through December 18) paid the lowest airfares on average per holiday, with tickets averaging $459 and $488, respectively.

“While procrastinating may unearth cheaper fares, it’s important to remember that gamble will likely come with limited flight availability,” Blasky said.

For more information or to book your upcoming holiday travel, visit aaa.com/travel.

About AAA Nevada
We are more than our legendary fleet of tow trucks, auto, home, life insurance and travel services. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the communities we serve, offering smarter solutions that improve traffic safety and helping the public adapt to a fast-changing mobility landscape. Learn more at AAA.com.

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