Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year to purchase airfare. As people travel to be with family for the holidays, flight prices surge due to high demand. However, there are still deals to be found if you’re flexible with your travel dates. Taking to the skies before or after the peak Christmas rush can yield great savings. Here are some of the cheapest days to fly during Christmas.
The Week Before Christmas
In the 1-2 weeks leading up to December 25th, travelers can find excellent deals on flights. The few days right before December 25th are when airlines discount ticket prices to fill empty seats. Travelers who can fly out on December 18th, 19th, 20th or 21st typically find the best rates. Just expect the airports and planes to be extra crowded with last-minute holiday travelers.
Once the gift-giving festivities of Christmas Day are over, flight prices take a steep drop. The days between December 26-31 (excluding New Year’s Eve) offer some of the most affordable ticket rates you’ll find around the holidays. Travel is still somewhat busy, but the Christmas rush has subsided. Just avoid flying on January 1st or 2nd, when rates are still inflated for New Year’s travelers.
Travel a Week After New Year’s
Another sweet spot for deals is departing during the first full week of January, after the New Year’s rush has ended. The week of January 7th through January 13th means you’ll miss both the Christmas and New Year’s spikes in airfare costs. Travel demand is nearly back to normal levels while kids are still out of school.
Flexibility is key to scoring deals on Christmas travel. While December 25 airfare will almost always be astronomical, you can save hundreds of dollars by flying just a few days before or after. Be ready to pounce when you see lower fares 21 days in advance or last-minute deals pop up!
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about the cheapest days to fly during Christmas:
What’s the one cheapest day to fly before Christmas?
The cheapest day to fly before Christmas is usually December 21st. Airlines often discount fares to fill empty seats so close to the holiday.
When should I book my Christmas flights?
To get the best airline deals for Christmas, aim to book flights at least 21 days in advance or be ready to scoop up any last-minute fare sales that pop up 1-2 weeks before.
Which airlines offer Christmas travel sales?
Many airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and United run Christmas holiday sales in the months of October and November. Sign up for price alerts and check back frequently.
Is it cheaper to fly on Christmas Day?
Surprisingly, Christmas Day airfare is almost always very expensive – even more than the days around it because availability is so limited. Flying on December 25th should be avoided.
What’s the most affordable day to fly after Christmas?
The days between December 26th and 31st tend to have the most affordable airfare following Christmas before New Year’s travel ramps up prices again.
When do airfares drop back down after the holidays?
Flight prices don’t normalize back to regular winter rates until mid-January, once the New Year’s travel surge has ended. The week of January 7-13 is an affordable time for getting post-holiday travel deals.
Are direct or connecting flights cheaper around Christmas?
Around Christmas, direct flights are often much cheaper than connecting flights. If your dates are flexible, compare rates for nonstop routes first.
I hope these tips for finding the most affordable days to fly around Christmas help you score some major deals on airfare!
To summarize, while Christmas is generally considered an expensive time for travel due to high demand, there are still ways savvy travelers can find affordable destinations and cheap flights.
The best Christmas travel deals often center around being flexible with your dates and willing to go just before or after the peak from December 23-January 1. Flying and visiting destinations in the couple weeks before Christmas or the first full week of January can yield major savings.
Popular cheap destinations for the holidays include Christmas market cities like Budapest, Prague and Krakow as well as warm weather spots like Cancun, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii that have lower peak season rates. Even exploring iconic cities like New York, Paris, and London during their magical holiday transformations can be surprisingly budget-friendly by avoiding closer to Christmas.
With the right planning and some flexibility, you can beat the holiday travel crunch. Focus on cheap days to fly out based on demand cycles and seek out affordable, festive destinations and you’ll be on your way to a holly jolly vacation without breaking the bank.
In another related article, Budget-Friendly Christmas Destinations: Where is the cheapest place to visit during Christmas?