It’s odd to think about the holidays when it feels like 100 degrees outside, but waiting until the temperatures drop to start making plans can cost you.
August may be the best time to book cheap flights for travel between November and January, according to studies analyzing airfare trends. To be more specific, booking flights the week of Aug. — as in next week — could save you the most money, according to a report released Tuesday by Skyscanner, a flight comparison Web site.
The site found that last year, holiday-related flights booked in the 33rd week of the year were the most affordable. For Thanksgiving travel, buying flights that week led to flights that were 5.5 percent less expensive than flights booked the week of the holiday. Christmas time flights were 19 percent cheaper than flights booked the week of. And airfare for New Year’s Eve was about 15 percent less expensive.
Separate studies show this fall might turn out to be a good time to buy flights too. Domestic flights will get cheaper in August and stay low until November, according to projections by the airfare prediction app Hopper. The company predicted that the average round-trip domestic flight purchased in August would cost $247, down from the actual average of $262 seen in July and $276 average for flights bought in June.
Travelers can keep a close eye on airfare by setting up alerts that notify them when the price for a flight dips or increases, Wolfson says. Skyscanner offers alerts, so do other travel Web sites such as Kayak. People should also search for flights from alternative airports and by searching for weekday flights, she says.
Procrastinators might see some savings, too, but on a lesser scale. Booking even one week ahead of the holiday will be cheaper, Wolfson says. Buying flights at least a month ahead might be even better, though not as smart as booking right now. People who book Christmas-time flights between Nov. 2 and Nov. 8 might save 4.8 percent on their flights — about a fourth of the potential savings they could see by booking now.