Airport Booking Strategy Holiday Travel

The Best Days to Fly for the 2018 Holiday Season: A First Look

Is it too soon to think about the holiday flights? No way, says CheapAir. They’re already tracking flights, and released an early look at the best days to fly for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

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The report includes a handy calendar highlighting the best days to flying if you plan to visit family this year. The data shows a familiar pattern—don’t fly on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, for example—but offers some useful and specific tips. Thanksgiving is one of the busiest, most expensive, and most stressful travel periods of the year, due to the compressed travel schedule.

Here’s what CheapAir advises for holiday travel dates this year:

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel 2018

  • Flying on the Monday before Thanksgiving can save you $40 compared to the day before Thanksgiving
  • You can save up to $209 by flying home the Tuesday after Thanksgiving
  • Flying home on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year, could cost you $100 more than flying home on Monday (and even than on Tuesday, obviously)

Christmas Holiday Travel 2018

Christmas typically has a longer travel period than Thanksgiving, which means fare-hunting is a lower-stakes endeavor. Still, prices can spike on certain days, and CheapAir’s data offers insight on how to avoid those increases.

  • Christmas Eve is a “pretty good bargain” this year, with fares coming in $76 cheaper than traveling on Saturday, the 22nd
  • In fact, December 21 and 22, and to a lesser extent the 20 and 23, are the most expensive days to fly prior to the holiday
  • Following Christmas, December 26 and January 1 and 2 are the most expensive days to return home.
  • New Year’s Eve day is currently the “most economical” day to fly

When Should I Book?

So, why think about this now? According to CheapAir, we’re heading into the best time to book your holiday flights. Fares are projected to bottom out in September before gradually increasing as the holiday season approaches. So if you know you’re definitely flying for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and especially if you have some flexibility in your dates, now is a good time to start tracking prices.

Readers, have you begun thinking about your holiday travel plans?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the Boston travel guide.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "It's not revolutionary, but a small Moleskine notebook is my one travel must-have. It's great for noting things you want to remember and it takes up hardly any space in your bag."

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