How to Get a Deal on Holiday Travel
It's usually a good idea to start your search in September for holiday travel if you want to get a good price. But you'll need to do more than simply book months in advance to get the best fares.
For example, Airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica says that the prices on some routes that he recently checked were astronomical. Flights from New York City to Florida destinations for a December 23 through January 1 trip were $1,000. "I don't think anyone is going to pay that much, so diligent shopping over the next few weeks will pay off," Hobica says. When booking flights, use these strategies to get the best deal:
The best day to book flights is Tuesday because that's when sales are released. Usually the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, but that's not always the case for holiday travel -- especially considering that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a peak travel day. So use a flexible search option, such as the ones at Bing Travel or Kayak.com . For Christmas, consider planning a family gathering the first two weeks of December or right after the New Year because those are the cheapest times to travel.
Being flexible about which airport you fly into also can help you save money, Hobica says. And if you were planning on renting a car anyway, driving an hour or so to get from the alternate airport to your final destination probably is worth it. (If you weren't going to rent a car but will need to if you fly into an alternate airport, make sure the cost of the rental doesn't match or exceed the cost of flying directly to your destination.)
Remember to keep an eye on your fare after you buy because most airlines and online travel agencies will give you a rebate -- usually in travel credits or vouchers -- if your flight's price drops below what you paid. Yapta.com will send you alerts if the price drops on a flight you've booked. Be aware, though, that some airlines can charge hefty fees for re-booking your flight. If the fee outweighs your rebate, it's not worth it to make a change.