We know it's hard to accept that the holidays aren't far away. But in this case, it pays to plan ahead.
As summer comes to a close, you need to plan ahead for your holiday travel to avoid skyrocketing fares. And as it happens, some of the cheapest flight deals for the winter holidays are popping up for sale right now. We're talking under $100 roundtrip to New York, under $300 roundtrip to Europe, and more.
Here's what we're seeing already for flight deals over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, and how to score cheap holiday flights yourself.
Thanksgiving: the Best Winter Holiday to Travel?
Typically, one of the best holidays to travel abroad is Thanksgiving. Since other countries don't celebrate it, international flight prices over the final weekend in November don't skyrocket like other holidays.
This makes Turkey Day a great holiday to put your time off to use and travel abroad for less. Here's a recent deal we found for half-off fares to Dubai over the holiday:
But that doesn't mean there aren't flight deals to be found in the U.S. over the holidays. If you start looking ahead early and wait for price drops, you can oftentimes beat the airlines at their own game.
Just last week, we alerted Thrifty Traveler Premium members to a smoking-hot deal to NYC with Thanksgiving availability!
These fares were well over half off normal prices – a rarity for holiday travel.
Rare Half-Off Holiday Flights for Christmas and New Years
What about Christmas and New Year's? The end of December and early January is notorious for the highest-priced flights of the year. But COVID-19 has flipped the travel world on its head. So as we look ahead to the winter holidays, flights are still looking cheap … like, under $350 roundtrip cheap.
With this recent deal we found to Switzerland for $800+ off normal holiday prices, you could spend the winter holidays skiing the Swiss Alps and ringing in the New Year in a chalet. Better yet, this deal was available from every U.S. airport!
It’s an unexpected but welcome change: We’re seeing rare cheap flights – especially to Europe – over Christmas, New Year’s, and other holidays at the same low prices we’ve been seeing for summer and fall. That’s a big change, as airlines typically jack up prices during these high-demand holidays when they know travelers are willing to fork over more.
And these cheap holiday fares aren't just to one or two cities. We're finding flash sales to several European cities from the low $297 roundtrip:
Nonstop Delta flights to Europe for Christmas and New Year's for $500? You can hardly get a last-minute ticket to your hometown for the holidays for that price!
This flight deal is already gone! Get Thrifty Traveler Premium to get instant alerts for the next deals we find.
Want to make it an extra-special holiday? You could have scored half-off business class flights to Europe for the holidays to really surprise a loved one! Now this would be a holiday to remember…
Yes, that was also available from over 100 U.S. and Canadian cities into over 30 European cities.
And there have been many more holiday flight deals to Europe that we've found and sent to Thrifty Traveler Premium members over the past month. It's the perfect time to visit the famous Christmas markets!
These flight deals are a clear sign: If you're traveling for the holidays, now is the time to start looking out for cheap fares and price drops. These deals that used to be rare are unbelievably cheap, and there's no telling if this trend is here to stay.
Tips to Save on Holiday Flights
Flying over the holidays is rarely cheap. But there are a few things you can do to get the best deal possible for your holiday travel.
First, ditch Kayak and Expedia. Prices on these Online Travel Agencies (OTAs for short) vary day by day, and it's hard to know if you're really getting the best price the airlines can offer. Instead, use Google Flights. Google Flights is a flight price aggregator: It takes airfare pricing data straight from airline websites and shows you the best-priced options, allowing you to book straight with your airline.
Next, set up Google Flights Price Alerts – like, today. Simply search in Google Flights for the destination and dates you want to track, and turn the “Track Prices” toggle on. Just note that you need a Gmail account in order to track price changes for the flights you want.
You'll receive email notifications when your tracked destination and dates drop or raise in price. You can also see all your tracked flights in Google Flights, and view pricing history. This will give you a better idea of when prices may dip again. And when they do, book ASAP!
Book at Least 30-60 Days in Advance
The old travel lore of “last-minute deals” is no longer valid, especially when it comes to domestic holiday travel. Airlines know they can gouge travelers on airfare for the holidays. If you think prices are bad now, they will only get steeper the closer we get to winter.
It's important to start tracking prices and keeping an eye on airfare now because data trends show that booking domestic travel within the U.S. at least 30-60 days in advance will help you save. The earlier you can book, the better – and you won't be stuck buying a crazy expensive ticket home a week before the holiday.
If you have the flexibility, you can likely save some cash by flying in and out a day or two before or after the usual holiday travel. Play around with the travel dates on Google Flights, and you'll see the cheapest dates available in green. If you can adjust your travel schedule, that could save you money and headaches at packed airports.
Don't say we didn't warn you: Rare cheap flights for the winter holidays are happening now. It may seem early, but we promise that booking early when prices drop will save you some serious coin when it comes to traveling for the holidays.