Get us in your inbox

Plane landing at Amsterdam Schiphol
Photograph: Shutterstock

Set your alarm: September is the best time to book flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas

That is, if you want the cheapest airfare.

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman
Advertising

Good things come to those who wait — especially if you’re talking about booking airline travel for the holidays. In line with experts saying that airfare is going to plummet this fall, another report from CheapAir.com says that September is the ideal time to book flights for Thanksgiving and December holidays.

According to the company’s 2022 Holiday Flight Report, right now Thanksgiving airfares are trending at 25 percent higher than last year’s prices, and Christmas airfare is up by 28 percent. So bide your time and set an alert to buy next month.

The company analyzed 11,000 flight itineraries to arrive at this data and assert that fares increase after September. You can also shave off the price by flying midweek (Tuesday or Wednesday are the least expensive days) or by choosing the first or last flight of the day. 

Now, if your family is willing to shift the celebration to another day (emergency room workers do it all the time!), you can fly on Thanksgiving itself — the report says you will save $75 per ticket compared to the next cheapest travel day — or on the day afterward, which will save you $90 per ticket. As for flying home, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the most expensive travel days of the entire year. Wait until Monday to save $113/ticket or Tuesday to save $225/ticket. Gives you more of a chance to conquer the leftovers!

As for December travel, although Christmas Eve is usually not the cheapest day to travel, for some reason this year the data crunching shows it to be a “good value” day to travel. After you’ve decked the halls, the 28th through the 31st are the best choices. Flying home the day after Christmas is hyper expensive (Dec. 16, 23 and 26 are the most pricey days of the month).

Ringing in the new year? Flying home on Jan. 3 will save you about $85/ticket.

You may be reading this, getting anxious and thinking it’s time to buy tickets now. But sit on your hands; the same report shows that August prices are much higher than booking in September: an average of $51 per ticket higher. October’s prices are on average $2 less than September, but you won’t want to wait that long.

Here’s CheapAir.com’s helpful chart of expected airfare fluctuations by purchase month for an average ticket, based on 11,000 sample itineraries:

August: $513

September: $462

October: $459

November: $634

December: $721

Set your alarm, and act accordingly. 

More on getaways

    Latest news

      Advertising