Airport Booking Strategy

The Secret Way to Book a Cheap Holiday Flight

Yes, there is a best day to book your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve travel. And it’s coming up fast!

When’s the best time to book your holiday flights? According to Orbitz, you should do it the week of October 5. That’s for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve travel.

When to Book Thanksgiving Flights

At least a quarter of all flyers looking to travel for Thanksgiving have already booked their Thanksgiving flights. Orbitz says the best day for those who haven’t booked yet will be October 6. According to the Orbitz Holiday Insider Index (see below), you should expect to pay an average of $406 round-trip for those end-of-November flights.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Holiday Travel

When to Book Christmas Flights

Because it’s the holiday with the greatest number of people taking to the skies, the sweet spot to book cheap Christmas flights is much earlier than the actual travel date: October 9, to be exact. You may also get a second chance at a reasonable (though slightly higher) fare if you book on November 6 or 7. Extreme procrastinators should be prepared to pay an average of $539 for a round-trip flight.

When to Book New Year’s Eve Flights

Solidify your New Year’s Eve plans by October 10—the best day to book flights averaging in the $362 range for the last holiday of the year. The latest you can book and still expect to see some savings is December 2. If you end up booking after Thanksgiving, you’ll be competing with half of all travelers. In the case, fares that can go as high as $500.

To briefly recap, book on October 6 for Thanksgiving flights, October 9 for Christmas flights, and October 10 for New Year’s Eve flights. If only it were so easy to narrow down Christmas lists, too.

Quick Holiday Travel Tips:

  • Pack light and don’t check a bag. Better yet, avoid the overstuffed overhead bin altogether by traveling with a bag that fits in the seat in front of you.
  • Arrive to the airport early. With a high probability of cancellations due to the season’s inclement weather, tensions running high, and airports running at full capacity, expect lengthy lines everywhere from airline service desks to airport security to getting a simple caffeine fix.
  • Check in for flights exactly 24 hours before your flight. This is especially crucial if flying Southwest, but checking into your flight at this earliest point establishes your turn at boarding the plane. Consider paying for early boarding, especially if flying with children, so everyone in your party has a higher probability of sitting together, locating a desired seat location, and finding room in the overhead bin.

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(Photo: Warsaw Frederic Chopin terminal via Darq/

By Patricia Magaña

Always on the lookout for value-oriented travel, Senior Editor Patricia Magaña has trekked throughout the States, Latin America, and Europe. Follow her on Instagram @PatiTravels.

Since joining the editorial crew in 2005, Magaña has pounced on incredible deals to Amsterdam, Madrid, and San Pedro Sula—each for less than $300. Her favorite travel experiences involve discovering street art while meandering a city, chatting up locals, and day drinking.

Her stories have appeared on USA Today, Huffington Post, Yahoo!, TripAdvisor, AirfareWatchdog, and other publications.

Email Patricia at

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