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Stay flexible to save as much as $400 on your Thanksgiving or Christmas airfare

SmarterTravel

Tips for students:

[% 5622 | deal | Unwrapping the secrets to finding affordable holiday airfare | aBodyTextLink %]

The holidays can be an expensive and crowded time to travel, but you don’t have to pay a wing and a leg for a Turkey Day trek, or jostle for space while you jingle all the way home for Yuletide.

You may not be thinking about your holiday flight plans yet, but airlines have already begun to raise prices for travel on the most popular days. Compared to a week ago, fares for travel on peak days are now as much as $111 higher than if you bought tickets for those dates previously. However, on some routes, this week’s peak price is actually less than last week’s, which could be a result of new sales that are opening up seats at lower fares. Even so, you can still save as much as $407 by being flexible with your travel dates.

Our best tips for beating the holiday blues:

  • Avoid blackout days and peak travel times. Peak days for Thanksgiving this year are November 26 and November 30. Peak Christmas travel days are December 22, 23, and 28.
  • When choosing among other days, try to travel midweek, usually Mondays through Thursdays, and be sure to include a Saturday-night stay.
  • Don’t forget about alternate airports; they’re often cheaper and less crowded.
  • Book as soon as you can, because holiday airfares will only get more expensive as the cheaper seats are booked up.

See below for sample round-trip fares, including all taxes and fees, for travel during the two most busy holiday periods; we found these fares using the flexible search tool on Orbitz. You can also click on the city pair to see how the holiday price compares to the lowest fares on that route; those prices do not include additional taxes and fees.

Thanksgiving: Thursday, November 27

With Thanksgiving looming just weeks away, peak prices are steadily rising, but you’ll find big savings on alternate travel days.

Route This week’s
peak fare+
Last week’s
peak fare
This week’s
off-peak fare
Savings
for
off-peak
travel
Off-peak depart |
return
Boston-Chicago $485 $485 $182 $303 November 24 |
December 1
Chicago-Washington, D.C. $278 $283 $184 $94 November 26 |
December 1
Dallas-Las Vegas $382 $382 $352 $30 November 26 |
November 29
Denver-Los Angeles $409 $344 $304 $105 November 26 |
November 29
Los Angeles-Honolulu $760 $649 $353 $407 November 24 |
November 28
New York-London, England $447 $456 $330 $117 November 24 |
December 1
New York-Los Angeles $376 $426 $222 $154 November 24 |
November 28
Orlando-New York $160 $231 $160 $0 November 26 |
November 30

+ Peak fares for domestic travel are for November 26 and 30; peak international fares are for November 23 and 30

If you’re willing to use an alternate airport, you’ll have more options for avoiding the hassle of big holiday crowds. For a trip from Boston to Chicago, skip the madhouses of Logan and O’Hare by flying from Providence to Chicago (Midway); for travel from November 25 to 28, we found a $175 round-trip fare on Southwest, including taxes and fees, that’s lower than the corresponding price from the big airports.

Christmas: Thursday, December 25

Christmas is still far enough away that good deals are still available on many routes, and you can find some low fares even on peak travel days. Book soon to make sure you pay the price you want on your preferred travel dates.

Route This week’s
peak fare
Last week’s
peak fare
This week’s
off-peak fare
Savings
for
off-peak
travel
Off-peak depart |
return
Boston-Chicago $246 $266 $222 $24 December 23 |
December 27
Chicago-Washington, D.C. $210 $184 $184 $26 December 22 |
December 29
Dallas-Las Vegas $394 $394 $352 $42 December 23 |
December 27
Denver-Los Angeles $304 $304 $304 $0 Anytime
Los Angeles-Honolulu $744 $654 $533 $211 December 24 |
December 27
New York-London, England $498 $437 $414 $84 December 23 |
December 29
New York-Los Angeles $282 $362 $222 $60 December 24 |
December 28
Orlando-New York $245 $245 $205 $40 December 22 |
December 29

+ Peak fares for domestic travel are for December 22, 23, and 28; peak international fares are for December 21 and 28

Taking a Christmas trip to Chicago? You’ll find additional savings by flying out of Providence instead of Boston, with Southwest’s sale fare of $175, including taxes and fees, for travel on December 22 and 30. Flights from Baltimore can be lower than the price from Washington, D.C., too; we were able to find seats on Southwest for $176.50, for travel on December 22 and 29.

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