Late summer may seem early to start thinking about the end-of-year holidays, but new priceline.com data shows the time period between now and mid-October is actually ideal for travelers to find the best flight selection and book the most attractive fares. To help consumers uncover the very best deals, priceline.com, a leader in online and mobile travel and part of The Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), has compiled the best days to fly and corresponding tips for this upcoming holiday season.
“Overall, holiday airfares are trending down from last year,” said priceline.com’s Travel Analyst Brian Ek. “However, fare trends can shift at any time, so travelers looking for reasonable airfare should book as soon as possible, and be sure to check out more than one set of desired travel dates to see if travel flexibility can result in a lower priced ticket.”
Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 26 this year. Travelers booking now will find the best fares if they depart on Nov. 19, 20, 23, 24 and 26; and return home on Nov. 26 or 27, or wait until Dec. 1. Travelers will pay higher fares if they depart the weekend before the holiday (Nov. 21 and 22), the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25th, which is traditionally the most expensive and most crowded day to fly); and return any day between Nov. 28 and 30.
To illustrate how much fares can change depending on travel dates, priceline.com looked at current fares for a New York to Tampa roundtrip itinerary. The fares for a Nov. 19-27 itinerary ranged from $290-$333. For a Nov. 24-Dec. 1 itinerary, fares ranged from $333-$373. Flying on peak days – Nov. 25 and 29 – significantly increases the fare range to $628-$670.
Meanwhile, Christmas, falls on a Friday this year. Flights are likely to be more expensive and crowded the weekend before the holiday (Dec. 19 and 20), Dec. 23, and the weekend after Christmas (Dec. 26 and 27). The best days to depart will likely be Dec. 21, 22 and 24, and the best days to return are Christmas Day itself and anytime between Dec. 28 and 31.
Using the same New York to Tampa roundtrip itinerary, priceline.com looked at currently available fares and found that the fare for a Dec. 21-29 itinerary ranged from $341-$682. For a Dec. 24-29 itinerary, fares ranged from $427-$639. And for a Dec. 23-27 itinerary, fares rose to $483-$720.
Ek also shared some additional tips to find cheaper airfare and keep travel costs in check:
- Pick times of the day that are normally less busy. Keep in mind the time of day that you’ll be flying. Travelers will find the most affordable seats departing early in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) or late evening (after 8 p.m.). Mid-day (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) is a bit more expensive, but still reasonable. Most expensive are the peak business travel hours (8 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.).
- Try priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price® airline tickets service. Travelers can save up to 40 percent on flights with Name Your Own Price® by simply entering details of their travel – desired dates, airport and other information – and then enter to bid on their travel.
- Send those presents on ahead. Gifts for loved ones can mean extra baggage fees, not to mention the security screeners will not be happy to see those wrapped boxes. Save yourself the hassle by mailing or shipping presents in advance (after you’ve wrapped them, of course).
- Weigh and measure your baggage. Check your airline’s maximum requirements for checked and carry-on bags to make sure you won’t incur extra fees. Note: baggage fees are charged separately for your outbound and return flights.
To score the best travel deals this holiday season, visit www.priceline.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. For more information on the priceline.com brand, please visit www.priceline.com/media.
Priceline.com, part of The Priceline Group [NASDAQ: PCLN], gives leisure travelers multiple ways to save on their airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. In addition to getting compelling published prices, travelers can take advantage of priceline.com’s famous Name Your Own Price® service, which can deliver the lowest prices available, or the recently added Express Deals®, where travelers can take advantage of hotel discounts without bidding.