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As the leaves change and the weather gets cooler, experts say that holiday airfare is about to increase quickly. If you haven’t already started looking at your flight options for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, you may be surprised by what you find.

It’s common knowledge that if you want to travel during the holiday season, you should book your flights early. Airports are known for being overcrowded during peak travel times. Wherever you decide to travel, planning ahead of time might be the difference between a relaxing (and more expensive) vacation.

To assist, we’ve compiled a list of top recommendations for getting the best flight deals during the holidays.

Book now: There won’t be any last-minute fares

As the holidays get closer, flights will only get more expensive because there will be fewer choices. If you see a good deal, don’t waste time thinking about it. Grab it right away, especially if you plan to fly during busy times like the day after Christmas. This year, the old law of supply and demand means that airlines have little reason to offer discounts: Passenger demand is still very high, but airlines have cut back on how many seats they can offer.

Put things off for gamblers or individuals who want to go on a spontaneous holiday trip but don’t know where to go. You might be able to locate a wonderful last-minute ticket to Tibet, but any inexpensive flights to Granny’s place in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving are almost certainly gone. It’s never too early to start planning your vacation. When and where you wish to travel, book your flight as soon as you know.

Fly on holidays to save money

If you want the best deals with cheap flights, think about traveling on holiday. If you fly on Christmas Day, you won’t be able to celebrate the holiday until the day before or after. However, just like the busiest days for flying around Thanksgiving, there are often more seats and lower prices on Christmas Day.

If you don’t want to travel on holiday, try to avoid the busiest travel days to reduce the chance of being late and losing time with friends and family. Remember this time for your return flight, too. Hopper suggests flying on Monday, December 19, or Tuesday, December 20, and coming back the following week, before New Year’s Eve. You could save up to $120 on your flight if you do this.

To avoid delays and cancellations, book your flight early in the morning. Late in the day, it is less likely to be delayed by other aircraft. Furthermore, if your flight is cancelled, you will have a better chance of getting to your final destination that day.

COVID-19 concerns

Even though travel restrictions have loosened, it’s still a good idea to check the refund, change, and cancellation policies of your airline, hotel, or other carriers. A lot of airlines are still pretty flexible, but you should check to see if you might be charged.

It would be beneficial if you also kept an eye on the local circumstances and any restrictions in the area where you are traveling. This is especially critical if you are traveling overseas. Some countries may still mandate quarantine or testing upon entry and exit, and you don’t want to be looking for a PCR test the day before you’re meant to leave.

For the most savings, fly on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve

Like Thanksgiving, you’ll save a lot of money if you fly on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, a Wednesday this year. Hopper says that passengers will save up to 30% if they fly on one of these days instead of the weekend before Christmas. The average round-trip ticket costs $527. And the average price of a flight leaving on December 22, the Sunday before Christmas, is about $639.

If you don’t want to spend Christmas in an airport, Hopper and Expedia say that the next best thing to do is to leave on Monday, December 23. After all, the less you spend on tickets, the more money you have for gifts like these.

Keep an eye on flight prices to get the best deals

To find cheap airfare for holiday travel, you need to research, compare flight deals, and keep an eye out for when prices drop. One method is to monitor airline prices using a tracker such as Google Flights, Hopper, or Skyscanner. These tools will let you know when there are deals for your route.

Janet Semenova, the co-founder of the travel company Boutique Travel Advisors, says, “Set your desired route and travel dates and get alerts when prices drop.” “Buy flights right away when they reach the level you want,” she says. Semenova says to set up more than one alert and be flexible about when you travel. Even if you aren’t sure of your exact plans, keep an eye on flight prices early and book when you find the best deal. This will save you money on holiday travel.

Think about flying from  other airports

If you are leaving or arriving in a city with multiple airports, you should look for all of them. In addition to O’Hare, you should visit the smaller Midway Airport in Chicago. In addition to SFO, you shouldn’t overlook Oakland, San Jose, or Sacramento airports. In New York, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark are the big airports, but Westchester County and Macarthur Airports are also good options.

When you look at the savings, it might be worth it to drive an hour or two to an airport in a nearby city. For example, travellers from the Chicago area have found great deals at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport. These secondary airports, often used by smaller budget airlines, can offer more than just savings. They may have fewer people, cheaper parking, and fewer delays, but don’t forget to add the cost of gas to get there. Also, if the closest airport to you or your destination is a smaller regional airport, remember that larger airports may have more airlines that serve your route, which could mean better prices. Keep all of your options open at all times.

For the best value, book a flight and hotel package

If you don’t want to sleep in the airport this Thanksgiving, you could save a lot of money by booking your flight and hotel together instead of separately. Getting one of the great deals on hotels that come up around the holidays can help make the trip more cost-effective.

This year, flights are more expensive than usual. Still, we’ve also seen hotels offer even lower holiday rates than in previous years to attract guests despite higher flight prices and a weakening economy. Business hotels have great deals during the holidays when they don’t have their usual customers. Look for hotels near convention centres and business districts for some of the best package rates. There may be some great ways to compare vacation prices on different sites that offer packages, and you only have to enter your travel information once.

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