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As summer winds down, and the dog days officially come to an end, the holiday season is approaching fast.
What? Yes. If you thought summer flew by, Thanksgiving will be here before you know it (84 days to be exact). Booking holiday travel can be a bit stressful, especially when you’re trying to find the most affordable airfares. In addition to Google Flights two new features that use previous travel data and deals to determine the best travel dates, Hipmunk, a commercial travel company, analyzed data to give you the most cost-effective ways to travel for the upcoming holidays.
First and foremost, do not book December travel at the same time you book your Thanksgiving plans. Hipmunk found that the best time to book flights for Thanksgiving is two weeks before booking the December holidays. Booking within the first week of October will save travelers 23%; the average ticket price this week is $387. Similarly, you should book Christmastime travel plans during the week of October 15 when the average flight price is $357.
Another way to save money is flying on the actual holiday. By doing a quick Google Flight search, I found that travelers flying United from NYC (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO) could save $273 by flying on Thanksgiving Day instead of the Tuesday before, or they could save $115 by flying on the holiday instead of Wednesday.
Hipmunk also found that flying on Christmas Day could save travelers 20% and that the most expensive time to fly is Dec. 21, the Friday before the holiday. Just like Google Flights, Hipmunk allows you to search for airfares with flexible dates and set fare alerts. Hipmunk data showed that Thanksgiving flyers can save 6% on the average booking price by setting a fare alert. Similarly, fare alerts saved an average of 7% off for Christmas flights.
Hipmunk data also revealed that booking flights into alternate airports can save travelers 14% on Thanksgiving weekend and 17% during the week of Christmas. You can save hundreds just by comparing flights in and out of different airports if you’re leaving from or going to a large metropolitan area with multiple airport hubs.
Although we love flying first and business class at TPG, one of the easiest ways to save is by opting for basic economy. If you don’t care about the seat comfort and perks that come along with first and business class, basic economy and low-cost carriers might be the way to go (as long as stay mindful of any added fees). Hipmunk data found that basic economy can help travelers save 13% on Thanksgiving flights this year and 14% on Christmas flights. Hipmunk also has a new flight search feature that allows travelers to compare prices and in-flight amenities, like WiFi and luggage fees.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms apply.
- See Rates & Fees