Thanks to the American Automobile Association, secrets that lead to some of the best deals on holiday travel have been uncovered.
A national motor and travel club, AAA scoured through three years of booking data to learn how to obtain the best prices for flights around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“What we found is that consumers should start by booking flights on off-travel days,” said Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona.
For Thanksgiving (Nov. 22 this year), that means flying the Monday before the holiday, when prices are approximately $40 cheaper than flights on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week.
Those that don’t have to arrive too far in advance of Christmas can save 9 percent by flying Dec. 24, compared to Dec. 22 or 23, which are the most expensive and busiest days that week for flying.
When flight tickets are purchased has a major impact on money-saving opportunities.
Booking flights more in advance can provide more options, but also can lead to more expensive costs.
AAA discovered that Christmas flights booked six months or more prior to the holiday cost roughly extra $98 per ticket, on average.
That means now is the time to buy Christmas flights.
“There’s still a sweet spot for savings,” Donati said.
Booking Christmas flights 61 to 90 days before the holiday can help save an average of $100 per ticket, which means that Oct. 25 is when the window for deals closes.
In regards to Thanksgiving deals, the window from July 25 to Sept. 22 has closed, but there are still chances for savings.
“If you’re a procrastinator and you’re open to that last-minute planning, you might be able to find a bargain,” Donati said.
According to AAA, the cheapest average airfares were sold seven to 13 days before the holidays. For 2018, that means Nov. 9-15 for Thanksgiving and Dec. 12-18 for Christmas.
While opportunities may arise for savings for those who wait, there could also be limitations.
“If you do wait until the last minute, your availability for flights and what you’re able to select as far as options go will be much more limited than if you were to book in advance,” Donati said.