This Is the Exact Date Airfare for Holiday Travel Will Rise in 2023
Timing your holiday airfare purchases can save you quite a bit of cash. Here's when to book, according to experts.
Visiting family during the holidays shouldn’t be a strain on your budget. But lately, end-of-year air travel has gotten a reputation for being costly. There’s a lot that goes into determining the cheapest time to travel and the best time to book a flight, especially during the holidays. Thankfully, the experts at Hopper have cracked the code on the absolute best time to buy plane tickets for holiday travel—and when we can expect prices to rise. Whether you’re visiting family afar or just want a warm Christmas getaway, here’s how to lock in the best price for your fall and winter travel. And remember: It’s never too early to save.
Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.
Hopper is a popular travel booking app and online travel marketplace. It recently surveyed its users and found that prices for holiday travel are of top concern—41% of respondents said they are worried about how they will afford upcoming travel, especially considering ongoing inflation.
So Hopper has determined three key factors to maximizing your holiday travel savings: planning ahead, flexibility and early booking. When you plan ahead, you have the opportunity to closely monitor the best airlines and the changes in prices in order to purchase your ticket when prices are at their lowest. Flying on less popular travel days can also save you quite a bit of cash, especially when you book well in advance.
When is the best date to book 2023 holiday travel?
“We recommend booking both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel no later than October 14,” says Hayley Berg, Hopper’s lead economist. Between now and then, prices are at their lowest, and there are still plenty of available seats. According to Hopper, prices for Thanksgiving airfare have decreased by more than $60 per ticket since the summer and are expected to remain low until mid-October. As the holiday grows nearer, the cost of airfare will quickly increase as much as $30 per day in the week leading up to the holiday.
Hopper also reported that prices for Christmas airfare have decreased by an average of $40 per ticket since the summer and are likely to be at their lowest now through the end of October. Those who wait until November or December to book will see a spike in prices as high as $40 per day in the week before Christmas travel begins.
How do this year’s airfare costs compare to last year’s?
“Domestic airfare for both Thanksgiving and Christmas has dropped compared to this time last year, with Thanksgiving flights down 14% from last year and Christmas prices down 12% from last year,” says Berg. “That said, prices won’t remain low. High demand for holiday travel and rising fuel prices will push prices up as the holidays approach, so travelers should book now to get the best deals.”
How much can you save by being flexible with travel dates?
Holiday travelers can save more than $100 by flying on less popular dates both before and after each holiday week, says Berg. “For Thanksgiving, flying the Monday of Thanksgiving week and returning any weekday of the following week will save you the most. Similarly, for Christmas, departing the Monday or Tuesday before Christmas weekend and returning midweek following the holiday will get you the most bang for your buck.”
Hopper also advises people who plan to travel for the holidays to prepare in advance for potential travel disruptions. Beyond knowing the best flights to avoid cancelations, keep the following invaluable tips in mind before you book:
- Know the best time of day to fly. Choose the earliest flight possible, as earlier flights are less likely to experience delays.
- Factor a buffer day into your travel itinerary so that unexpected delays don’t ruin your holiday plans.
- Opt for direct flights whenever possible to avoid missing a connecting flight.
Whether you’re heading to a warm winter getaway or a snowy celebration, planning ahead is the best way to make the most of your fall and winter travel without breaking the bank.
About the expert
- Hayley Berg is an economist and product lead at mobile travel app Hopper, where she leverages her expertise in economics to drive growth and brand affinity.
- Hopper: “2023 Holiday Travel Outlook”