The 2022 holiday season is fast approaching, and major airlines are still recovering from staffing shortages which caused chaos at airports across the globe this summer. Many people are wondering whether they should proactively book flights months ahead or wait until the last second when shortages are resolved, and airlines offload access trips for cheaper prices. Here are the best and worst times to book your holiday flights, according to experts, as well as some tips to help save you money on travel during Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!
Best and Worst Times to Book Travel
According to Hopper, a travel agency application that focuses on discounted flights and accommodations, the best time to book flights for the holiday season is right now! Hopper reports that prices have fallen in late September and will “remain relatively flat until mid-October.” By late October, the price of flights and accommodations are expected to rise sharply as demand increases from last-second planners and supply shrinks.
Hoppers 2022 Holiday Travel Outlook writes that demand will be high after two years of decreased travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic and “More than half of Americans plan to travel for one or both of the holidays this year, with 70% of travelers planning to visit friends and family”. This demand is expected to be exacerbated by lower supply driven by increased fuel costs and a lower number of flights scheduled for the holidays due to staff shortages.
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Increased demand and lower supply mean the worst time to book your travel in 2022 is at the last minute. According to Haley Berg, Lead economist at Hopper, waiting until the week before your trip to book flights for this holiday season could spell disaster, as “Flights may be sold out completely on the dates you want to fly.” The chances of excess flights being released at lower prices closer to the holidays are unlikely, and the more likely scenario is that demand will outpace supply around Thanksgiving and Christmas, leading to completely sold-out dates.
Luckily, If you are unable to book flights until November or December this year due to shifting plans or budget constraints, there are still a couple of things that could save your wallet this holiday season:
Be Flexible with Your Arrival and Departure Dates
Traveling on off-peak days is a great way to get cheaper flights and still spend the holidays with friends and family. For Thanksgiving, the peak travel days are Wednesday, November 23, for departures; and Sunday, November 27, for return flights. Consider departing November 21st or 22nd and returning November 25th or 28th to score the best last-second deals possible.
Similarly, for Christmas this year, Avoid traveling during the peak times of December 22nd and 23rd for departures and December 26th, January 1st, and January 2nd for return flights. Save money by traveling on December 21st or Christmas Eve for departures and returning on December 27th or 28th. An added benefit to traveling off-peak is less crowded airports, which can be notoriously bad during the most popular travel days of the holiday season and is expected to be amplified by airport security shortages as select airports.
Setup Flight Alerts to Score the Best Deals
Finally, A great tool that websites such as Google Flights, Hopper, and Kayak have is the ability to create alerts for flights before purchasing. Although there is expected to be high demand this season, there are daily fluctuations on almost every airline website that you can monitor to ensure that you pull the trigger when flights are at their lowest possible price. Additionally, airlines will often post mistake fares, and having alerts set up for your possible dates of travel means you will get notified if there are mistake fares on your route.
For further great technology resources to help you conquer your holiday travel this season, see here!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com