Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the most popular times for flights, and travelers who make their plans early have historically been the ones getting the best deals. According to CheapAir’s 2022 Holiday Cheap Flights Report, the extra-early birds will get the worm this year when it comes to holiday flight fares. Fares are currently up more than anticipated, and the upward trend isn’t likely to stop. Travelers are advised to make their holiday airfare purchases as soon as they have plans in place to ensure they get the best price possible.
Holiday Fare Prices
Travelers who flew during the holidays in 2021 were probably pleasantly surprised by the prices they encountered. Due to the pandemic, travel demand was not very high, and fuel prices were lower. However, this year is a whole different story. CheapAir’s report shows that prices are significantly higher compared to last year. Flights costs are up 25% for Thanksgiving and 28% for Christmas compared to a year ago.
What’s Driving Costs?
For travelers that have been paying attention this summer, it will come as no surprise that the most significant factor driving up costs is demand. A massive increase in travel demand has occurred this spring and summer, and the same is expected for holiday travel this year. Unfortunately, the aviation industry wasn’t ready for such a colossal travel rebound. Short-staffed airports and airlines have struggled to keep up with demand, causing delays, cancellations, and overall travel chaos. Some airports have even had to cap the number of daily flights allowed. As more and more countries continue to drop Covid restrictions, the latest being France, demand for flights is likely to continue growing
Another factor influencing airfare costs has been the increased fuel prices this year. Jet fuel prices have roughly doubled since this time last year, and airlines are passing along the cost to customers. And while jet fuel price has recently started to decrease, airlines may be slower to pass on the savings.
During the pandemic, airlines cut jobs by the thousands. In February 2021, estimates showed that about 400,000 workers had been laid off or furloughed. Many workers found other employment during this time and now don’t plan to return to the industry. Due to this, airlines have had to reduce their capacity by reducing the number of flights they offer. Fewer flights available means travelers will have to fight for seats which drives up costs. Another issue cropping up from short staffing is lost luggage. Travelers should minimize their chance of lost luggage this year more than ever.
Best Days To Book
As far as when to book, travelers should plan on securing flights as soon as possible. Looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas airfare trends shows an upward trajectory that isn’t likely to stop. However, certain days around Thanksgiving and Christmas this year may offer better deals. According to CheapAir’s analysis, the best days to fly during the holidays this year are:
- Best Days to Fly: November 24th, 25th, and 29th will offer the best value this year. Those willing to push celebrations into the evening of Thanksgiving (the 24th) or the 25th will save about $75 per ticket. This can add up to a lot when traveling with a large family.
- Worst Days to Fly: November 19th, 20th, and 27th are the most expensive days to fly for Thanksgiving this year. By waiting until the 29th to fly out, travelers can save an average of $225 per ticket.
- Best Days to Fly: December 12th, 13th, and January 3rd will be the best value days to fly this year, with those flying out on the 3rd saving an average of $85 per ticket.
- Worst Days to Fly: December 16th, 23rd, and 26th are the most expensive days to fly for Christmas this year.
As travelers prepare for the holiday season, they should try to book flights as early as possible and utilize the best dates for travel when possible. Travel is chaotic right now, and it doesn’t look like it will change by Thanksgiving. Travelers should avoid checking a bag if possible and know their passenger rights if things go south.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories