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Book Thanksgiving, Christmas flights now: experts

If you haven’t booked your 2022 holiday travel plans, do so as soon as possible, say industry experts.

“Despite chaos and cancellations this summer from just about every major airline, now is still the best time to book a flight for the upcoming holiday season,” Phil Dengler, co-founder of travel website The Vacationer, told FOX Business.

According to Dengler, the best time to book holiday travel is in June and July, although it’s still not too late to nab a deal before prices spike. The earlier you book, the better your chances are of securing a nonstop early morning flight, Dengler said.

“Flights early in the morning are much less likely to be canceled than those in the afternoon or the evening,” Dengler explained. “Having an itinerary with one or more connections also increases your odds of a cancellation or delay, so I always recommend booking nonstop flights.”

Booking early will also give you the chance to potentially “save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars,” according to Dengler.

Clint Henderson, the managing editor of travel website The Points Guy, agreed, saying that consumers should already be setting Google flight tracking price alerts for fall and holiday travel.

Flight costs are estimated to increase 23% throughout December.
Flight costs are estimated to increase 23% throughout December.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

“Prices have dropped by a quarter for domestic fights since the peak prices of summer according to the travel booking website Hopper. The longer you wait to book those Christmas trips, the more likely you are to pay more,” Henderson said.

However, with prices still elevated, Henderson recommends cashing in on travel points that were saved up during the coronavirus pandemic.

For Thanksgiving, in particular, consumers should aim to book by late August or early September at the latest. After Halloween, prices will “increase considerably,” according to Dengler.

Starting November 1, travelers should expect prices to surge 40% to an average of $400 for a round trip, Dengler added. During the week of Thanksgiving, consumers should expect an additional 25% increase, pushing prices to around $500 on average for a round trip.

Meanwhile, he estimates that last-minute international fares booked during the week of Thanksgiving will be around $820 on average, a 32% increase from before prices spiked.

For Christmas, the best time to book is any time before the big turkey feast. However, consumers should aim to lock in fares by late August and early September.

The best deals for domestic and international travel for Christmas are around mid-September, which is roughly 90-100 days in advance. Dengler projects prices will spike 7% to $460 on average for a round trip two weeks prior to Christmas. During the week of the Christmas holiday, prices will spike another 11% to an average of $510 for a round trip

International travel prices will begin rising significantly around Thanksgiving, “so travelers should aim to book Christmas flights no later than Thanksgiving at the latest to avoid the biggest price increases,” he noted.

Airfare is estimated to increase 23% throughout December.

However, consumers don’t have to rush to book a hotel just yet, according to Henderson.

“If you’ll need a hotel, you can probably wait a while to book those since prices remain elevated in the hotel space at the moment,” he added.

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