Airport traffic and airfares have been in constant flux for years now. Knowing the best days to book flights for the cheapest airfare has become something of a guessing game.
But if you have to make a guess, at least make it an educated one.
CheapAir is only a medium-sized travel agency in the global airfare selling game. But the company has been in business since 1989 and claims to track some 11,000 flights each holiday season. This year, CheapAir has aggregated all those airfare quotes and created a Holiday Cheap Flights Report that attempts to advise travelers like you about the best days to fly in the holiday season of 2023.
Among the takeaways for Thanksgiving flights:
• Thanksgiving week airfares in 2023 are 12% higher than they were a year before. Flights over Christmas week and New Year's have gone up about the same amount since 2022.
• The best-priced day to fly before Turkey Day will be the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 20.
• The day after Thanksgiving—Friday, November 24—will be the day with the biggest bargains of the week. Tickets on that day are currently priced at $100 less, on average, than other days during Thanksgiving week.
• So for the best-priced itinerary, CheapAir's report recommends "departing on Monday, November 20 and returning on the 24th."
For the final weeks of December, including Christmas and New Year's Eve, CheapAir offers these predictions:
• "Because Christmas lands on a Monday this year, the most expensive days to fly for the holidays are definitely the Friday and Saturday prior to the holiday [December 22 and 23]," according to the report.
• Christmas Eve (Sunday, December 24) is the best-priced day to fly that week. "Flying on this date will save you close to $120 over traveling on [Friday] December 22," CheapAir concludes. Flying on Christmas Day (December 25) will yield you prices that are pretty much the same as on Christmas Eve.
• The days surrounding New Year's Day are relatively unproblematic this year, says the airfare seller. "New Year's Day falls on a Monday this year, which makes for a relatively inexpensive travel day. You'll spend about the same whether you fly on Monday or Tuesday this holiday—just about $10 separates their average price."
The airfare website doesn't explicitly differentiate between domestic United States and international flights in its report. However, earlier this year CheapAir did a deeper dive on the best time to buy international flights; you'll find that report here.
As for when to make your ticket purchase, the airfare seller says you should do that 2 to 3 months ahead of travel. So if you're reading this in early September, you'd be wise to get clicking. Prices will truly start to zoom skyward by late October.
CheapAir's findings comport, more or less, with what competitor Hopper came up with earlier this summer. You can read those predictions here, but since they were made back in July, they're not the most current estimates available.