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Work with data from the pros.
Unless you just think it's fun to Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline incessantly, take advantage of the data that travel pros have already developed when seeking cheap flights for Christmas. SmarterTravel, for example, crunched flight price numbers from 2018 and established patterns of the best and worst days for holiday travel in 2019. They did remind holiday travelers that "best" fares are relative during the holidays. "That designation is relative to already-inflated high-season prices," SmarterTravel said. "But there are some significantly cheaper times to fly during a holiday week or weekend. These cheaper times to fly are typically on the less-popular travel days, which means you'll also be more likely to have a lower-stress airport experience." Here's what they came up with:
Best Thanksgiving travel days 2019
Monday, Nov. 25
Thursday, Nov. 28 (aka Thanksgiving)
Friday, Nov. 29
Worst Thanksgiving travel days 2019
Wednesday, Nov. 27
Saturday, Nov. 30
Sunday, Dec. 1
Best Christmas travel days 2019
Tuesday, Dec. 24
Wednesday, Dec. 25
Saturday, Dec. 28
Worst Christmas travel days 2019
Saturday, Dec. 21
Sunday, Dec. 22
Sunday, Dec. 29
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Focus on the best times to get cheap flights for Christmas and Thanksgiving 2019.
Instead of zeroing in on a particular airline, even if you earn points with them, check out the times that are usually the best for buying tickets for cheap flights for Christmas or Thanksgiving. They are not foolproof, but they give you the best possibility of saving money on holiday airfare.
According to Expedia, these are the cheapest times to book holiday travel:
Thanksgiving cheapest time to buy: October 29 – November 13
"Booking two weeks to a month in advance of travel saved travelers more than five percent," Expedia explained. "Those who booked 91+ days out and less than one week out paid the most, with last-minute bookers paying more than 20% above average."
Christmas cheapest time to buy: November 23 – December 9
"Booking during this window saved travelers around 15%, so aim to book at least two weeks to a month in advance of travel," Expedia added. "While last-minute bookers paid around 2% more than average, early birds who booked 91+ days out paid around 15% more than the average holiday traveler."