These are officially the best and worst days to fly for the holidays

If you can handle flying on the holiday itself, you'll save buckets.

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman
San Francisco and USA contributor
Airplane, sunset, sunrise
Photograph: Shutterstock

We’ve all known that there were certain days that were better for flying than others, and now travel news resource The Vacationer has spelled it all out for us – perfect timing, since many of us are thinking of booking holiday travel. So here are a few tips to consider when thinking of which days to time a flight.

First of all, book holiday flights right away to get the lowest prices. June and July were actually the prime times to book, but the longer you wait, the more prices rise. The cutoff date for a reasonable price for a Thanksgiving flight is Halloween, says the report: flights will still be open after we throw off our costumes, but will be far more expensive.

And for heading somewhere for Christmas, try to book before Thanksgiving – even better, book before Halloween. Or even just, right now.

And for a deeper, nitty-gritty look: the busiest travel days for Thanksgiving are Wednesday, November 23 and Sunday, November 27 – in other words, the day right before the holiday, and the last weekend day to fly before returning to (glum voice) work.

So, to avoid the lines and the stressed-out passengers, fly out on these dates and expand the time with family (or the time spent sightseeing if you’re heading out on a non-traditional vacation): Sunday, November 20; Monday, November 21; and Tuesday, November 22. If you’re willing to do it, flying on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, can be the cheapest answer.

As for returning home, all gluttonous and fulfilled, these are the best, most affordable dates: Friday, November 25 (hm, Black Friday: maybe shop duty-free instead?); Monday, November 28; and Tuesday, November 29.

Now, let’s tackle Christmas, if that’s the holiday you celebrate. These dates vary because it doesn’t always fall on the same day each year. So for this year, avoid traveling on these dates: Thursday, December 22; Friday, December 23; Monday, December 26; Tuesday, December 27. 

Instead, save money by flying out on these dates: Sunday, December 18; Monday, December 19; Tuesday, December 20; Saturday, December 24 (yes, it’s Christmas Eve and many others will not be booking this flight); Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day? It’s a bonanza of affordability).

And try to fly back on these dates:Wednesday, December 28; Thursday, December 29 

Other tips: book directly with the airline even if another purveyor offers a better price. Why? If there’s a cancellation or delay, you have better leverage and accessibility to customer service. Also, book an early morning flight – those are less likely to be canceled or have delays, and in case there is a problem, your flight is more likely to make it out later that day. Finally, if you can be flexible with the airport you depart from or arrive at (Google flights will let you adjust those settings to find the best deal), you may find better prices for a short drive. Just crank up the tunes and get going!

Still planning your trip? Check out the best winter vacations in the US

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