How To Find Cheap Flights For Christmas Travel

The holiday season is upon us. Flights around the Christmas holidays are usually some of the most expensive you’ll see all year round. Of course, 2020 was an exception to this rule, many stayed behind due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But now travel is rebounding, despite the development of the Omicron variant; millions of people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and families and friends are ready to come together.

Much like Thanksgiving, signs point to a busy travel time during the December holidays, which means flights will be full and expensive.

If you’ve postponed purchasing your late December flights, whether it’s Christmas, New Years Eve, or whatever, now is the time to do it. But before you make a decision, make sure you know the best tips and tricks so you don’t have to pay a small fortune to fly during the holiday season.

We’ve put together a list of the top five methods for finding cheap Christmas flights – here’s what you need to know.

Before the pandemic, the busiest travel days in the Christmas period were December 23 and the Sunday after Christmas. This year, however, that is expected to change slightly, given many travelers’ flexible working arrangements that allow them to travel on non-traditional days.

And, often, that means cheaper flights.

Take, for example, the flights from Detroit to Dallas. Economy non-stop flights from Thursday, December 23 through Sunday after Christmas, December 26, will cost you $ 509 round trip with full-service airline American.

However, if you’re able to work remotely – or have more time to take off – and you could travel from Thursday, December 23 through January 5 after the New Years, you could travel for just $ 391 round trip with American.

Of course, not everyone will have the flexibility to travel on the cheapest days. There are many business travelers who can only be away from the office during “traditional” Christmas travel dates. But, if you’re someone who is able to work remotely, it’s definitely worth considering extending – or shortening – your trip to potentially save several hundred dollars on flights.

Many large metropolitan areas have multiple airports to choose from. New York has airports at LaGuardia (LGA), Kennedy (JFK) and Newark (EWR); Chicago to O’Hare (ORD) and Midway (MDW); Houston has George Bush-Intercontinental (IAH) and Hobby (HOU); And the list continues.

When looking for flights, check if your destination has a secondary airport that serves the area. Many times it can be cheaper to fly to these smaller airports instead of the main airport serving a given area.

For example, if you wanted to fly from Pittsburgh to the Boston area on the best days of Christmas, you could do it for $ 352 round trip if you had to get to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) with Delta Air Lines. .

Or you can fly to nearby Providence (PVD) for a relatively reasonable $ 228 round trip on the same dates with the new airline Breeze.

If you’re not set on a particular destination but just know you want to get away from it all for the holidays, you should use Explore function of Google Flights. The free service allows you to see which destination has the cheapest airline ticket.

The Explore function allows you to search with specific dates or with flexible dates in a given month. You can choose your city of origin and let Google do the work for you. From there, you can simply click on the destination that interests you and fits your budget and proceed to book your flights.

Google Flights also allows you to set fare alerts and will send you an email if and when the cost of a given ticket goes up or down. This is especially useful if you set alerts months in advance of when you intend to travel so that you can jump on a good deal if it arises.

Many budget airlines have made strides in recent years to improve both their operations and the customer experience. However, while they can offer cheap fares, they are known to charge hefty fees for any extras you want, like checked baggage, seat selection, carry-on baggage, and in some cases even. the water.

And while “legacy” carriers like American, Delta, and United have mimicked the low-cost experience with economy base fares, you can avoid them simply by purchasing a “regular” economy ticket. But if you choose to travel with a low cost carrier, you run a greater risk of being delayed or even stranded if weather conditions or other factors hamper your flights.

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Traditional carriers tend to have larger fleets and higher flight frequencies, which means you have a better chance of reaching your final destination if something goes wrong on the day of travel.

Use your points and miles

If you’re not having a lot of luck finding flights that fit your budget, you can turn to any points or miles you’ve earned by taking a flight or spending on a travel rewards credit card.

All of the major US airlines have their own loyalty programs. If you’ve taken a flight with American, Delta, United, Southwest, or JetBlue, for example, in the past and added your frequent flyer number to the booking, you’ll have been rewarded with points and miles in exchange for your business. .

And if you’ve racked up enough points and miles on your accounts that have been dormant throughout the pandemic, Christmas may be the best time to use them up.

For example, you can use your United Airlines MileagePlus miles on a New York-San Francisco flight around the Christmas holidays. A nonstop round trip flight from Monday December 20 to Monday December 27 will cost you 45,900 miles and only $ 11.20 in taxes and fees instead of $ 775 for the same flights.

Even if you don’t always get the best value for your miles, if you want to save money, it’s a no-brainer.

Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have enough United miles in your account right now, you can transfer them from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program as well. If you own a Chase Sapphire card and earn ultimate rewards, those points are transferred instantly to United Airlines at a one-to-one rate.

In general, it’s easier to use points and miles to book flights at popular travel times when you book well in advance, but as the example above shows, if you have some flexibility and you’ve saved points and miles, you may even find some great deals. at this point in the game.

Christmas and New Years are fast approaching. If you haven’t set your travel plans yet, now is the time to do so. Although it is usually expensive to travel, it is still possible to find affordable plane tickets for this year’s vacation.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which CNN Underscored cards chose as our best travel credit cards of 2021.

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