The 411: Michael’s Travel Hacks for Cheap Holiday Flights

Can you believe it’s already November? Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are practically right around the corner—and as we all know, life gets even busier this time of year. You don’t want to get caught two weeks before Turkey Day faced with plane fares that have skyrocketed or, even worse, no flight to get you home in time for Mom’s turkey and stuffing and Uncle Ned’s bad (but funny) jokes at the table. Since most everyone in the SMAC offices takes off for their own hometowns at this time of year, we asked around for the top holiday-travel hacks.

Book early. The cheapest flights pop up 60 to 90 days before the holiday travel date—which means you should be booking for Thanksgiving and Christmas now! While you can usually get last-minute tickets for a steal at other times of the year, you could add up to $5 to your ticket for every day you wait during the holidays. 

Fly on the holiday itself. Nobody wants to fly on Thanksgiving or Christmas … and that’s the exact reason you can sometimes score the cheapest deals if you do just that. Don’t worry: Flying on the holiday doesn’t mean you’re going to miss all the festivities. One option is to leave first thing in the morning, so you’ll arrive in time for the eggnog and caroling. 

Mix and match. Always check one-way ticket prices, and consider mixing and matching your airlines. There is no rule that says because you choose to fly American Airlines one way that Delta won’t be your cheapest option to fly on your way back. We know you want those miles on your favorite airline, but are they worth paying the extra money? 

Check nearby airports. Just because the airport closest to you is the biggest doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest. Check other area airports for better deals. (Pro tip: You can also fly into one airport and out of another.) Even if an airport is a little further out from your destination, what you spend on that longer Lyft ride might be made up for in flight savings.

Take the time to research. Take the time to search a couple of airfare booking sites before you buy your tickets, no matter how much of hurry you’re in. (We know we said book early, but there’s no need to be impulsive.) Sites like SkiplaggedMomondoSkyscanner, and TripAdvisor are a great way to search multiple rates and dates all at once. Also, be flexible with your departure date: Try selecting the entire month to know which day is the one that’s the cheapest time to fly.