It's important to plan ahead to get the best airfare deals when traveling for the holidays.
Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Only Santa can take reindeer-powered flights at Christmas; everyone else taking to the skies must rely on plane travel. Whether you're flying home for the holidays or heading on a holiday getaway, Christmas airfare deals are probably high on your wish list.
To find Christmas airfare deals, refer to KAYAK's 2017 Holiday Hacker Guide and take advice from travel experts. Here are the top 6 ways to get the best holiday airfare deals.
Fly on Christmas Eve. If you wait until Christmas Eve to depart, KAYAK data shows you can score some of the best deals. It's sort of surprising, but Kayak also shows really good deals for those who agree to fly on the big day itself, whether arriving or departing.
This year's Guide's "When to Book" section showed median airfares to expect based on anticipated arrival and departure dates for the Christmas holiday. The prices are based on last year’s data. A few of the best median airfares are as follows:
$351 departing Dec. 20 and returning Dec. 25 $354 departing Dec. 21 and returning Dec. 25 $358 departing Dec. 23 and returning Dec. 25 $346 departing Dec. 24 and returning Dec. 25 $359 departing Dec. 24 and returning Dec. 26 $234 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 25 $338 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 27 $352 departing Dec. 25 and returning Dec. 28
Book your flights before expected price increases. You’ve probably found that airfares fluctuate on different dates each time you fly. A general rule of thumb for Christmas airfare deals is to expect fares to increase 21, 14 and again seven days before departure, according to Google Flights.
Score a great airfare deal to Nordic countries. KAYAK's list of Wallet-Friendly International Flights had Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavík at the top. If the cold is cool with you, those great flight prices apply to Christmas airfare deals, too. Plus, late December is a great time to catch holiday festivities in Stockholm or view the northern lights in Oslo.
Pick a wallet-friendly North American destination. If you aren't gathering with family for the holidays (intentionally or unintentionally), save some money with one of KAYAK's Top 10 Wallet Friendly North American Flights to a Christmas vacation: Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Calgary or Seattle.
Choose a spot that's not trending to spend Christmas or New Year's. Google Flights compared 2016 and 2017 flight searches between June 6 and Sept. 20 and came up with these North American destinations as the top trending for Christmas 2017: Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Sao Paulo, Lisbon, Bogota, Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Brussels. It may seem counterintuitive, but avoiding those destinations for the Christmas holidays may mean cheaper airfare to the places you do select. If you're flexible with holiday getaway plans, consult the Google Flights Explore Map to find airfare and vacation bargains.
Don't save money at the expense of your happy holiday. Some other tactics may be easier on your flight bill, but will put you at higher risk of ruining your holiday, noted the Air Fare Watchdog blog. The travel expert said you could save money on peak holiday travel by taking connecting flights rather than nonstop, "but since winter weather can foul up connections, you're better off splurging for the nonstop."
While it's tempting to grab the last seat on an inconvenient flight time closer to the holidays, Air Fare Watchdog also recommended booking early for anyone who won't enjoy the flight at all without their preferred seating. "This is especially true if there are several of you flying together and you don't want to all end up sitting far apart from each other," noted the blog.