With all the hype surrounding holiday airfares, I followed the experts’ advice and started researching prices for Christmas flights back in September. Turns out I wasted a ton of time because now those same so-called experts have decided to change their tune. Last week, travel “insiders” went on the record saying that people looking to take flights later this month will likely be treated to the same fares as individuals who booked and paid for tickets in September, October and November.
So, apparently, it doesn’t pay to be an early bird this season.
While fares are higher than last year, experts say procrastinators won’t be penalized as harshly as they have in the past. In fact, according to the big wigs at Expedia, you have until December 13th to snag sensational deals for Christmas travel. Unfortunately, for me, they are right. I just checked my flights, and sure enough, the fares are sitting at the exact same price as they were three months ago.
Expedia insiders say the majority of Christmas fares peaked in November, but recently, fares have begun to fall off slightly. Basically, if you book now you can save roughly 10 to 20 percent off peak fares, especially if you are planning to fly to major hubs, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando.
If you still can’t find a decent price on your holiday itinerary, consider fiddling with your departure date. Being flexible can yield major savings. For example, if you are willing to fly on Christmas Day instead of December 23rd and return the following Tuesday you can save at least $100 on a round-trip ticket.
Of course, spending your Christmas in an airport and then landing after Santa has already made merry may not sit well with you. If flying on Christmas Day is out of the question, experts say the next cheapest option is to fly out on Christmas Eve, and return either Sunday, December 26th or Monday, December 27th. Those dates will give you average fares of $385 for Sunday or $392 for a Monday return.