The period between Christmas and New Year’s day is typically one of the most expensive times to fly. Because everyone wants to travel at the same time, and airlines only have so many seats, the prices go up–sometimes by as much as 55%!
What is different this year is last-minute deals may pop up throughout the season because while demand for flights is up, purchases are still below normal (aka pre-pandemic times).Here’s what you need to know to buy a cheap ticket for Christmas this year.
Even though travel intent has been increasing, there is still a gap in actual ticket purchases. According to Hopper, around 2 million people will fly this Christmas, which is double 2020 numbers but only 80% of the travelers in 2019.
Typically, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book because airline prices go up the closer you get to the date. That’s true of most years, but this year isn’t like most and lately there have been a lot more last-minute fares than in the past.
More importantly, the airlines are striving to maximize their profits by putting butts in seats. Almost consistently, they’re dealing with emptier-than-they’d-like flights by slashing fares closer to the time of departure.
In normal times, airlines increase the fares inside the 21-day window prior to departure because they can get more money out of travelers who have to travel. Those are usually business travelers who will pay the ticket at any price. With business travel at all-time lows, those predictable price jumps may be sidelined this year.
If you haven’t already booked your Christmas trip this year, don’t panic. If cheap is your priority:
If finding a cheap plane ticket is your top priority, use the strategies above and both of the following websites:
Neither of these sites sells tickets like Kayak or Expedia will, but booking directly with the airline means working directly with them if things go wonky. Plus, you can negotiate without the extra layer of complication when it comes to cancelations and delays.
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Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.