Ways to save more money on vacation plane tickets this year

I knew flying on vacation was expensive, but wow I guess I didn’t realize I would need to sell blood plasma or dip into retirement funds to cover the costs.

The problem is, my timing is terrible. In many ways it always has been. My son was born on December 28th. It was scheduled for mid-January, but I got it early, between Christmas and New Years.

As a family who love to make memories through experience – especially travel – I thought it would be fun to celebrate their memorable 13th birthday by getting them out of here for a week right after Christmas. Neat plan, if I had been struck by the idea, say, several weeks ago.

Traveling during the holidays is historically a popular time to fly. Air carriers know this so they set their prices accordingly. In fact, experts at travel savings site Hopper note that December is the most expensive month of the year to fly, followed by the summer months and the Thanksgiving holiday.

The key to taking advantage of the most reasonable fares and avoiding exorbitant airline tickets is to book early. But, if you are just starting to plan a holiday season celebration elsewhere, there is still hope.

“While the best time to book vacation flights is usually early to mid-September, it’s not too late to find a good deal,” said Eric Jones, co-founder and COO of The Vacationer, an online travel agency. guide with tips, tricks and featured offers. “Waiting until the last minute increases your chances of having to pay a premium as well as the possibility of not finding a desirable flight. “

There are a limited number of airplane seats for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, and they tend to fill up quickly, Jones said. The busiest travel days for Thanksgiving will be Wednesday, November 24 and Sunday, November 28.

“I see Halloween as the deadline to get a reasonable price on a Thanksgiving flight,” Jones said. “After Halloween, prices will increase dramatically as Thanksgiving approaches.”

For cheaper flights and less hassle, consider traveling on Monday November 22 or Tuesday November 23. For return flights, Saturday November 27 and Monday November 29 are your best choices.

As for Christmas, the heaviest travel days will likely be between Dec. 23 and Dec. 27, said Jones, who recommends booking a flight before Thanksgiving, at the latest. The best deals, however, can be found now until Halloween. If you can, book a flight that takes off a few days before December 23 to save money. As for the return trip, come home Sunday, December 26, to avoid the rush later in the week.

Another factor to consider is COVID-19. A vaccination warrant could result in canceled flights if pilots do not get exemptions, Jones said.

“Fewer flights will raise prices even more, so now is the time to book,” he said.

To find the cheapest vacation flight deals, start with Google Flights. The online flight booking search service offers powerful filtering options to find the cheapest prices across a variety of airlines and airports, Jones said. Google Flights will track your desired airfare and notify you via email when the price goes up or down. Please note that Google Flights does not display prices for Southwest Airlines. You will need to visit the company’s website to research the rates.

If you’re really struggling to find something that won’t take your finances down, look for more reasonable rates at nearby airports. Or consider flying to an airport beyond that may be within driving distance. Plus, don’t feel like you have to commit to just one airline for your departure and return. Make a travel plan with two carriers and you could save money or get better flight times.

“Flexibility is the key to finding a good flight deal, and this is especially true for vacation travel,” Jones said.

Searching for rates on websites like Expedia and Priceline is also a good option. Sometimes their prices not only match, but surpass those offered directly by the airline. You can save even more by earning money through a program like Rakuten, RetailMeNot or BeFrugal.

“The downside to booking a flight through an online travel agency is that you have to go through them instead of the airline for any changes or cancellations,” Jones said. “With a potentially hectic 2021 holiday flight season, you must decide whether you want to deal with the additional hassle of potentially having to change flights with an online travel agency rather than directly with the airline.”

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